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Soldier killed Richmond County deputy, then self

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 7:35 AM
Last updated Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 7:22 PM
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The soldier pulled his Cadillac to the grassy shoulder off Bobby Jones Expressway around 1 a.m. Sunday and aimed his M4 semiautomatic rifle at the cars speeding by.

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Shena Brewer huddles with her son, Jaiden Saffery, 6, at the base of the flagpole at the Law Enforcement Center during a candlelight vigil in memory of Deputy James D. Paugh who was slain early Sunday.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Shena Brewer huddles with her son, Jaiden Saffery, 6, at the base of the flagpole at the Law Enforcement Center during a candlelight vigil in memory of Deputy James D. Paugh who was slain early Sunday.

In the seat next to him, a woman scrambled out of the car in a panic and tried to call 911 on her cellphone.

At some point in between, Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy James D. Paugh, 47, was riding his motorcycle on the highway towards the couple, heading home after his shift patrolling at the Georgia-Carolina State Fair.

When he saw the Cadillac and decided to investigate instead of going home, off-duty Paugh didn’t get a chance to push his kickstand down before the M4 went off.

Deputies said Army Spc. Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, fatally shot Paugh before taking his own life on the Bobby Jones Expressway near the Fort Gordon exit early Sunday. Both men were found dead at the scene at 1:18 a.m.

“It’s obviously an emotional day for everybody, especially for those who knew (Paugh) well,” said sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles.

At the scene, investigators found evidence Hodges shot 35 rounds from his car, and earlier witnesses had reported seeing him firing at passing vehicles. It’s unclear how many times Paugh was shot, although his duty weapon had been discharged twice.

On Sunday, deputies interviewed the woman identified as Hodges’ girlfriend but did not release her name.

Peebles said the couple had been arguing and that Hodges physically assaulted the woman in the car before pulling over on the highway.

After the shooting, Jack Pennington, 33, was driving west on Bobby Jones Expressway and stopped when he saw a police motorcycle on its side and a woman running toward him.

Pennington said the woman came up to his car screaming, “My boyfriend just shot a cop!” while on the phone with police.

He told her to get in the car and drove to the next exit to wait for officers, who came five to 10 minutes later.

Few details are being released about Hodges, a soldier with the Tennessee National Guard who had been training at Fort Gordon for the past six months.

Fort Gordon spokesman Buz Yarnell said he was not aware of past trouble with Hodges but could not provide information about the soldier’s military record.

Peebles said Hodges may have spent time deployed in Iraq, but that information is still being confirmed. Hodges also appeared to have been drunk at the time of the shooting, Peebles said.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Paugh probably didn’t realize Hodges and his girlfriend had been fighting on the side of the road and that the officer had just pulled over to conduct a well-being check.

That dedicated character is what hundreds of colleagues, friends and family remembered about Paugh as they gathered at the Richmond County Law Enforcement Center for a remembrance vigil Sunday evening.

Standing on top of a grassy mound in the center’s parking lot at 401 Walton Way, Strength told the crowd Paugh was a “fun-loving guy” who was a dedicated officer despite the dangers that come with the profession.

“We never know in law enforcement, when we wake up in the morning, what’s going to happen,” Strength said. “He definitely didn’t know. ... He’s in a better place than we are today. No doubt in my mind.”

Most of the hundreds of people who gathered were law enforcement officers from local agencies, many in the crowd said.

Sheriff’s Deputy Al Grossman said he knew Paugh for more than a decade and that he was always an upbeat person.

“It’s a dangerous business we’re in,” Grossman said. “We come out here and work every day dealing with people that are dangerous, on drugs, on alcohol, mentally unstable, but we do it because we’re the protectors. (Paugh) was a protector.”

Grossman looked out at the crowd, digging his hands in his pocket, and tried to find the words to describe his friend.

“Do you know what ‘cop’ means? It means Champions of the People. That’s what he was.”

Staff Writer Summer Moore contributed to this article.

Funeral arrangements

Funeral arrangements for Deputy James 'J.D.' Paugh are as follows:

Visitation will be 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Thomas L. King Funeral Home, 124 Davis Road, Martinez.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way Extension. Officiating will be Dr. Rodger B. Murchison, the associate pastor of First Baptist Church, and Chaplain Ken Gross, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. Interment will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Law enforcement officials should arrive at the church no later than 10 a.m. Thursday.

Source: www.augustaga.gov

The fallen

A list of officers who died as members of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office:

Deputy Kenneth R. Burton
Died Jan. 4, 2004, from injuries sustained after being struck by a vehicle while directing traffic at an accident scene.

Lt. Edward L. Harris
Died July 13, 2004, while actively serving in the Criminal Investigation Division.

Deputy David Randall Jones Sr.:
Died July 30, 2005, while serving in Iraq.

Deputy Shane R. Hamilton:
Died Oct. 31, 2005, in a traffic accident.

Deputy Eric Mark Sikes:
Died March 21, 2007, in a traffic accident.

Other local agencies

Richmond County School Safety and Security Chief Dianne J. Wasson died in January 1996 while actively serving for the Richmond County Board of Education. Wasson was a former member of the Augusta Police Department.

School Safety Officer Michael D. Stephenson was shot and killed by a burglary suspect in July 1997 while responding to an alarm at a local school. Stephenson was a former Richmond County sheriff's deputy.

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Comments (172) Add comment
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curly123053
4655
Points
curly123053 10/23/11 - 07:43 am
0
0
My prayers are with the

My prayers are with the family of Deputy Paugh and fellow officers! Senseless loss of life.

JohnScott213
10
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JohnScott213 10/23/11 - 07:56 am
0
0
Rest in Peace, brother. I saw

Rest in Peace, brother. I saw you the other day... little did I know it would be for the last time. God bless you for making the ultimate sacrifice - something all of us in law enforcement hope will never happen, but know it's a possibility every day we head to work. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

storiesihaveread
358
Points
storiesihaveread 10/23/11 - 07:56 am
0
0
Prayers to all law

Prayers to all law enforcement and the family of Deputy Paugh. My son is about to get a job with RCSD. Senseless killings like this make me a little worried.

pkervin
0
Points
pkervin 10/23/11 - 10:03 am
0
0
I have heard this disturbing

I have heard this disturbing news and would like to say JD you I met many years ago and had some good times while working together. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family along with ALL my RC brothers and sisters. It is time for Law enforcement to take a stand for your the front line on a war on our soil that goes unappreciated! EOW 10/23/11

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 10/23/11 - 08:20 am
0
0
What a loss...I will miss you
Unpublished

What a loss...I will miss you JD. You gave your life doing your duty...no greater honor...RIP

corgimom
32219
Points
corgimom 10/23/11 - 08:29 am
0
0
Another officer lost forever.

Another officer lost forever. My heart aches for his family and friends.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 10/23/11 - 08:33 am
0
0
My heart is saddened and my
Unpublished

My heart is saddened and my prayers go out to the family.

DeputyJMartin
0
Points
DeputyJMartin 10/23/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
Blessed are the peacemakers:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the
children of God. Matthew 5:9

I worked hard for you.
Put in mornings, days, and nights.
For this was the job I was sworn to do through and through.
I wore my shield proudly upon my chest
Holstered my weapon
and secured my vest.
The hours were long and
The paychecks small
But for the friends I have made
I would change nothing at all.
I never changed the world
Now we both know this is true
But I never thought this would happen Lord
I was one of the brave in blue.
I lay here
and the sirens sound so loud.
How can this be happening Lord?
I served my county proud!
When you fold my flag
And hand it to my wife
Tell her I died heroically
Tell her I lived a good life!
Just promise me this Lord God.
Tell my kids daddy is proud
Allow them to reach the top
So I can rest peacefully
Knowing they never became a cop!

A deputy was killed last night.
He died while protecting your rights.
His creed was to protect and serve.
This fate he did not deserve.
A mom and dad have lost a son.
So many other jobs he could've done.
His wife and kids are left alone.
Their daddy won't be coming home.
His fellow officers are hurt so deep.
For a fallen brother they weep.
The morning paper will print a story.
About a deputy who died in glory.
The flags will fly at half mast.
Politicians and citizens will seem sad.
The funeral is tomorrow at noon.
It will all be over very soon.
By next week they will have forgot.
That a deputy was killed last night.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 10/23/11 - 08:44 am
0
0
no cameras on motorcycles i
Unpublished

no cameras on motorcycles i guess. domestic disturbances are often dangerous. why was he sent out alone?

dlico2
6
Points
dlico2 10/23/11 - 08:45 am
0
0
JD, I always thought it would

JD, I always thought it would be the wrecks that got you. I'm so sorry. You WILL be missed.

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 10/23/11 - 08:50 am
0
0
My prayers to the deputy's
Unpublished

My prayers to the deputy's family. My only consolation is the deputy made sure this dirtbag couldn't hurt anybody else. When a law officer kills someone in the line of duty, there are always screams of indignation from "civic leaders," and many times protests. When a law officer dies in the line of duty, where are the screams of indignation or protests? God bless our law officers, and God bless Deputy Paugh.

TheArmyWife
0
Points
TheArmyWife 10/23/11 - 08:55 am
0
0
My deepest sympathies to all

My deepest sympathies to all of Deputy Paugh's loved ones, please know that your sacrifice is honored and appreciated.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/23/11 - 08:58 am
0
0
R.I.P. Deputy James D. Paugh

R.I.P. Deputy James D. Paugh condolences to your family.

seenitB4
86945
Points
seenitB4 10/23/11 - 08:59 am
0
0
I'm so sorry for the family &

I'm so sorry for the family & for Richmond county.....Thank you RCSO for doing a thankless job.....thankyou-thankyou....RIP.

MrsD
0
Points
MrsD 10/23/11 - 09:04 am
0
0
My heart aches for this

My heart aches for this officer's family, friends & loved ones... Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice, Deputy Paugh... I hate that it was so senseless...

Just My Opinion
5611
Points
Just My Opinion 10/23/11 - 01:23 pm
0
0
Man, one less good guy.

Man, one less good guy. First off, I pray for comfort and peace to eventually come to the family of this slain officer.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 10/23/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
augusta reporters, when
Unpublished

augusta reporters, when sheriff strength gives his press conference, ask him why an officer would be sent to a domestic disturbance alone.

Dark Lord
2
Points
Dark Lord 10/23/11 - 09:24 am
0
0
My thoughts and prayers go

My thoughts and prayers go out to my fallen comrades family. You will be truely missed JD.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 10/23/11 - 09:26 am
0
0
Just heard it was a Ft.

Just heard it was a Ft. Gordon soldier.

Little Lamb
45869
Points
Little Lamb 10/23/11 - 09:30 am
0
0
BSNM, didn't you read the

BSNM, didn't you read the article? The deputy was not sent to the scene. The article says he was a motorcycle patrolman and he came upon the scene. There are thousands of domestic disturbance calls to 911 every year in Richmond County. Over 99% are mild, end peacefully, and are handled by one officer. Let's not overreact to this tragedy.

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 10/23/11 - 09:33 am
0
0
Apparently the deputy was

Apparently the deputy was checking out a vehicle, and he did not know he was walking up on a domestic disturbance. Just another one of the risks these men and women take each and every day.

Heartbreaking.

celticfiveo
12
Points
celticfiveo 10/23/11 - 09:34 am
0
0
My prayers are with JD and

My prayers are with JD and his family at this dark hour. You went out in pure JD fashion. Love ya

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 10/23/11 - 09:39 am
0
0
Heroism is not confined to

Heroism is not confined to foreign fields of battle.

Deputy Paugh personifies heroism in giving his life this morning in Augusta-Richmond County in defense of The People of the State of Georgia. How many other lives did his ultimate self-sacrifice save from the ravages of his M-4-wielding murderer?

May God bless his soul and give his survivors and the other citizens of A-RC strength.

Hucklebuck
43
Points
Hucklebuck 10/23/11 - 09:43 am
0
0
Most all officer deaths occur

Most all officer deaths occur on domestic calls. He should not have been out there alone. maybe he was in the area when the call came in. But these calls are extremely dangerous. But it appears that the shooter would have done what he did if it was 10 officers that came.

God Bless his family and the community.

baglady
0
Points
baglady 10/23/11 - 09:46 am
0
0
We are friends of this young

We are friends of this young man's family, he was a soldier which fought for you in Iraq. Maybe our soldiers need better transitioning from shooting guns on foreign soil and falling back into a normal everyday routine. My prayers are with both families. He was a Christian young man and I pray for both men's souls. His mother is a dear friend of mine and I wish I could make this go away for her...

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 10/23/11 - 09:53 am
0
0
Again...this was NOT a

Again...this was NOT a domestic call. Deputy Paugh walked into this unaware...and as I said above, it is a risk our peace officers live with every day.

Cassandra Harris
-3
Points
Cassandra Harris 10/23/11 - 09:53 am
0
0
JD Paugh was one of the best.

JD Paugh was one of the best. Condolences to his family and loved ones.

"Wanna bet this was one that never should have been out of jail anyway, but some bleeding heart probably let him."

According to Ronnie Strength at the press conference he was a Ft. Gordon soldier. The military has a significantly higher rate of domestic abuse than the rest of society. No "bleeding" heart let this man out of anywhere except off post.

"no cameras on motorcycles i guess. domestic disturbances are often dangerous. why was he sent out alone?"

Because the Sheriff's department has cut back on the number of deputies to the bone. Ronnie didn't spend all his money last year and now faces serious budget cutbacks. Meanwhile the men who daily put their lives on the line to protect us are even more endangered as is the society they are attempting to protect.

ds6987
0
Points
ds6987 10/23/11 - 09:54 am
0
0
My heart goes out to JD's

My heart goes out to JD's family. We worked together long ago. He loved his job and did it with all his heart. Rest in Peace my brother.

sjsd17
9
Points
sjsd17 10/23/11 - 09:57 am
0
0
Rest In Peace JD...you will

Rest In Peace JD...you will most definitely be missed, my friend.

APINGA
0
Points
APINGA 10/23/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
J.D. was on his way home off

J.D. was on his way home off Skinner Mill rd after working a special at a local resturant, when he came across the domestic dispute. Being the fine Deputy he was, he stopped to investigate. Motocycle Deputies do not work at night on patrol, due to the inherient risks that come with riding at night, so he was not dispatched to the call. J.D. was a friend, and will be missed.

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