Sheriff's captain resigns after missed phone call

Columbia County veteran didn't get message before fatal March shooting

Thursday, May 5, 2011 2:37 PM
Last updated 9:58 PM
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A captain of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office resigned this week after discovering he inadvertently deleted a voice message requesting a deputy at a Belair Conference Center party where an Augusta teen was fatally shot.

Capt. Bill Probus, who ran the sheriff's office patrol division, voluntarily resigned Wednesday to pursue another job opportunity about a week after finding out a voice message delivered as an e-mail was deleted prior to the party, Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle said.

"He just accidentally deleted it along with nine other e-mails, and it was gone," Whittle said. "He didn't see it."

At the March 19 party, James Sterling Gillette Jr., 19, of Augusta, was shot and killed while working at the Grovetown venue for the 16th birthday of the late James Brown's grandchild. A fight broke out that sent more than 200 people outside, where the shots were fired.

Since the fatal shooting of Gillette, police have arrested five Augusta residents in connection to the crime. Johndrick Lors Levert Barnes, 20, was charged with murder. Brandon Devon Berry, 17; Morrieo Demetrius Carswell, 17; Jordan Dashawn Harrison, 18; and a 16-year-old boy were all charged with lying to authorities.

An employee of the conference center called on March 15 and left a message for Probus asking if a deputy could attend the event, Whittle said.  Probus did not immediately get the message because he was in a training session.

Voice messages left for sheriff's office personnel are sent in an e-mail to the designated party. The system is set up in such a way that the person can then listen to the message by opening the e-mail.

No one from the conference center called the sheriff's office to confirm that a deputy would be at the party, Whittle said.

"It's just a mistake all the way around," he said. "Bottom line, we had a shooting and a person died."

The employee did call about a week ago to inquire why the deputy didn't show up, Whittle said.

Information technology staff found that the message had been deleted with nine other e-mails on the same day it was sent.

"It wasn't an after-action incident, where he tried to cover it up," Capt. Steve Morris said. "That would have been a whole (different) situation."

Probus started with the sheriff's office in May 1995, Morris said. His 16th anniversary would have been Sunday.

Probus had no record of disciplinary actions and 18 commendation letters filed on his behalf, Morris said.

"We hate to lose him, that's for sure," he said.

To avoid future confusion, Whittle said that clients requesting deputies at an event will receive a completed form listing the date, time and officer's name as a way of confirmation.

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Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/05/11 - 02:15 pm
0
0
The blame goes both ways.

The blame goes both ways. The Captain messed up & deleted the message. His mistake.

The Conference center messed up even bigger by not calling to confirm a deputy when no one got back to them. They had a second opportunity to correct this. They should have called when a deputy didn't show up that night.....that is very, very irresponsible.

However. The real blame lies with the 5 Augusta thugs who showed up & killed an innocent employee. They are the real ones to blame.

It would be interesting to know if any of these 5 thugs have prior records. My guess is that there is a 99% likelihood that they do. If so, you can also lay blame at a judge's feet for releasing them and at our system's feet for allowing their release.

I give the whole lot an "F" for effort.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 05/05/11 - 02:23 pm
0
0
So one of our BEST Deputies

So one of our BEST Deputies is walking out the door and the Gangsters STILL rule the streets? Who hasn't accidently deleted an email?

Cops 0
Thugs 2

Hello America we're losing the war on drugs which is how these thugs are financed. If we keep doing the same things we can expect the same results. If you were a foreign investor would YOU loan money to U.S.?

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/05/11 - 02:48 pm
0
0
I agree that both parties

I agree that both parties made a mistake, he should not have deleted a message without listening (which I have been guilty of) but the employee at the confrerence center should have followed up and also why was a message even sent to a deputy who was in a training session? Seems like it should have went to someone who was actually available to respond to it. No parties should be allowed to take place anyway unless the person or persons giving such a large event are willing to pay for their own private security to be there......

unclemorriss
0
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unclemorriss 05/05/11 - 02:55 pm
0
0
AMEN, Stillamazed!

AMEN, Stillamazed!

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/05/11 - 03:04 pm
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0
Republic71, your comments are

Republic71, your comments are pathetic.

A career law enforcement officer of 16 years with the CCSO and 18 comendation letters and not a single letter of disciplinary action and you wish to call him inept...you must be God because he is the only one who never makes a mistake or misses anything.

The Sheriff's Office offers to provide deputies for special duty on an as available basis, it is not their responsibility to provide for security. In the event no deputies are available, the venue should hire Sizemore or Regent Security, etc. as it is THEIR responsibility to ensure they have security if they feel it is needed. To simply leave a message without follow up is not ensuring you have security for your event if that is really what you want.

When no deputy showed prior to the party starting, the venue should have called the Sheriff's Office or a private security company to ensure they had security on site.

The Captain made a mistake in not answering an e-mail but at the same time, he could have been out of town, in training for a week or on vacation. Without a confirmation from the Sheriff's Office that a deputy would be on location, the responsiblity for no security falls soley on the venue or hosts.

As for the shooting occurring, the responsibility falls solely on the thug wannabees and they should all be behind bars for the remainder of their natural lives.

dixiegal
0
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dixiegal 05/05/11 - 03:08 pm
0
0
Geez... there are already

Geez... there are already post being deleted.. I see CCSO still has connections...
Although I am not a fan of Clay Whittle...I do have to commend him and the regime for making the correct decision in this matter. This could have easily been swept under the rug and it was not.

Sweet son
11673
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Sweet son 05/05/11 - 03:27 pm
0
0
And given the same situation

And given the same situation Ronnie Strength would have handled it with the same professionalism!!

pinkdymondiva
24
Points
pinkdymondiva 05/05/11 - 03:25 pm
0
0
Normally, I don't comment on

Normally, I don't comment on these type of post but I am today. Most people get what they want out of a story. Capt. Bill Probus is a great guy, upstanding citizen, and an outstanding Deputy Sheriff. Everyone is quick to blame and point the finger. You all clearly misread Sheriff Whittle's word, "It was an honest mistake". Capt. Probus is human and further more, he was away from training and would not have been available to find someone to work anyway, he would have had to forward the email message. Also, he VOLUNTARILY resigned. He was not asked to resigned nor was he fired. He VOLUNTARILY resigned because he has a heart and is a God fearing man and felt bad for the young man's life and felt that "maybe" if he had received the email, the young man's life would had been spared. That within itself is a "what if" scenario and the young man's life could have possibly been taken even if a CCSO deputy was working. Capt. Probus, I commend you and Sheriff Whittle you are correct in saying that you lost a great guy and deputy when Capt. Probus resigned this week.

pinkdymondiva
24
Points
pinkdymondiva 05/05/11 - 03:31 pm
0
0
Also, I would like to commend

Also, I would like to commend all law enforcement officers in the CSRA and all over the world for doing an outstanding job in serving the citizens of the CSRA and of this world. People are so ungrateful and love to point the blame and finger at someone. If you think you can do a better job, put on a uniform and walk in the shoes of a police officer/deputy sheriff.

I do know that a lot of you all like to focus on negative things when making your comments, so I would like you all to know that I am not a resident of Columbia Co. I am a PROUD RESIDENT OF RICHMOND CO. AND I AM ALSO A DEMOCRAT.

Hats off to you Capt. Bill Probus and again I commend you for being the person that you are.

Sweet son
11673
Points
Sweet son 05/05/11 - 04:06 pm
0
0
Capt. Probus is probably

Capt. Probus is probably hurting badly. Leave him alone! All of you negative commenters have made mistakes!!!

dixiegal
0
Points
dixiegal 05/05/11 - 04:07 pm
0
0
Why would after all this

Why would after all this time...they decided to call now (last week) to find out why no one showed up from the SO? Think reality here....Sorry, but I do not buy it. This has been known for a while.

With that in mind...Lets just say that if he felt so strongly about this....why not resign instantly?
With the economy in the condition it is now...yes.. I would be completely distraught if I knew I had missed that and a life had been taken..but in the end...I also have to have an income to feed my family.

So he found a job before hand because maybe he knew that he would be quietly asked to resign.

csrareader
1288
Points
csrareader 05/05/11 - 04:27 pm
0
0
The Captain should not lose

The Captain should not lose his job.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 05/05/11 - 04:37 pm
0
0
The deleted email is not what

The deleted email is not what killed Gillette. I agree with asitis...I wouldn't think the sheriff's office would have the responsibility of providing security at a private party. If that's the case, I'd have a deputy man my house 24/7 due to excessive burglaries. Those hosting the party should have called a private security company. Ultimately, the blame for the murder lies with the person who pulled the trigger.

Dixieman
17430
Points
Dixieman 05/05/11 - 05:16 pm
0
0
I don't think he should have

I don't think he should have resigned over such a small mistake, albeit one with grave consequences. What is one error vs. 16 years of dedicated service, commendations, etc. Party organizers should have followed up when they got no response, and the blame falls more on them than on him - though the primary blame is, of course, on the shooter.

Riverman1
93859
Points
Riverman1 05/05/11 - 05:14 pm
0
0
Patty-P, officers are paid by

Patty-P, officers are paid by the people having the party usually. The deputy would have been paid extra to cover the event. If alcohol is being served, they have to have a deputy present. It sounds like a mess-up, hardly enough for him to feel badly enough to leave his job.

andrew412
0
Points
andrew412 05/05/11 - 05:28 pm
0
0
This sounds like a non story

This sounds like a non story to me. A sheriff's captain doesn't deserve blame for a dead teenager, especially if the offense was deleting an email. The conference center dropped the ball. Full disclosure, I have met Captain Probus and I know he is a respected and responsible family man and law officer, and I wish him well in his new endeavors. Even if I didn't know who the officer is, I would certainly be willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt (unlike some fellow posters.) Don't let focus stray from the people who actually committed the crime.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 05/05/11 - 05:32 pm
0
0
Riverman...if they were

Riverman...if they were paying they should have followed up. Alcohol at a sweet sixteen party?

dixiegal
0
Points
dixiegal 05/05/11 - 06:15 pm
0
0
I agree that mistakes do

I agree that mistakes do happen. The true person to blame is the shooter and no other. The victim could have very well been shot with or without a deputy being there.

Unfortunately, this mistake was involved in a very sad occurrence.. the Sheriffs Office has set precedence over the years and in my personal opinion..I think it would have been a grave mistake if Capt. Probus had not resigned.

dixiegal
0
Points
dixiegal 05/05/11 - 06:21 pm
0
0
Republic71 you are correct,

Republic71 you are correct, we will never know everything because as you said..it will all go away as quietly as possible. It has to look correct to make the voters happy.

corgimom
38518
Points
corgimom 05/05/11 - 06:39 pm
0
0
Who hasn't accidentally

Who hasn't accidentally deleted an email?

If I wanted to hire a sheriff's deputy, and nobody ever called me back, you can be sure that I would call back to confirm.

That man should NOT lose his job. He is not responsible for the murder of that young man.

corgimom
38518
Points
corgimom 05/05/11 - 06:41 pm
0
0
Republic- there is nothing in

Republic- there is nothing in the story to suggest that he accidentally deleted 9 emails. Read the story again.

He deleted that message along with 9 other emails.

I delete emails every single day. So do most people.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 05/05/11 - 06:59 pm
0
0
corgimom...it does say he

corgimom...it does say he accidentally deleted it.

Sweet son
11673
Points
Sweet son 05/05/11 - 07:23 pm
0
0
Republic seems to have a

Republic seems to have a vendetta against the CCSO!! Wonder why???

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 05/05/11 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Republic...the story says it

Republic...the story says it was deleted on the same day it was sent - which was March 15th.

dixiegal
0
Points
dixiegal 05/05/11 - 07:40 pm
0
0
Most people only want to hear

Most people only want to hear the good in people. When someone says something against another and its not good, then they get accused of having a vendetta..

Sometimes people know more than others..maybe the truth? maybe not..but either way.. people are not perfect..so its usually not a vendetta...its because they know more than whats put out there.

Unfortunately the SO has been known to sweep things under the rug in the past...so before accusing someone of having a vendetta...you might want to think about the fact that they may actually know more than others about the situation or as a whole.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 05/05/11 - 07:55 pm
0
0
'Information technology staff

'Information technology staff found that the message had been deleted with nine other e-mails on the same day it was sent.'

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