GBI to investigate attack on Warren County football coach

Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn Primus has requested assistance from the GBI with the investigation into the assault of Warren County football coach David Daniel.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents met with Primus and Glenn Ingram, the chief of the Hancock County Board of Education Police Department, on Thursday afternoon to discuss the case and the results of their investigation.

“At the beginning I was looking at the evidence and trying to see exactly what took place here. During the course of investigating along with the chief of the Hancock County Board (of Education) police (department), we learned new evidence materialized,” Primus said. “We wanted the GBI to assist us to investigate this situation that took place (Oct. 14).”

Daniel was attacked after Warren County’s 21-2 victory over Hancock Central in Sparta, Ga. According to Warren County Schools Superintendent Carole Jean Carey, Daniel witnessed an opposing player hit one of the Warren County players with a helmet.

When he stepped in, the Hancock Central player reportedly struck Daniel with a helmet. Daniel suffered severe fractures around his eye, cheek and nose, which required reconstructive surgery.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Primus called late Wednesday afternoon to ask for assistance.

The GBI’s Milledgeville office will handle Hancock County and the GBI’s Thomson office will deal with Warren County, he said.

“There’s no way of knowing how long it can take,” said Bankhead, who said there have been no arrests made or charges filed in the incident.

Carey said she was “really thrilled” that the GBI is now involved and she hopes the investigation deters similar incidents in the future. Primus said new evidence had been uncovered, but said “we can’t disclose that at this time.” He also made it clear he never said he wasn’t ever going to call the GBI.

“It’s still under investigation,” he said. “The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office along with the police department of the schools are working with the GBI.”

Warren County is playing host to Washington-Wilkes for tonight’s homecoming contest. Because of what happened last week and because it’s a big region game, Warren County is expected to have about 10 security officers on hand. At games with smaller crowds, Warren County might have as few as two security officers.

“It’s just because we want people to know we’re serious,” Carey said. “But I don’t think we’re going to need them.”

Ralph Swearngin, the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, said an incident like this has occurred infrequently during his tenure.

He said it is not unusual to have two schools submit reports when the GHSA investigates matters such as eligibility issues, but it is rare for his office to request a police report.

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Washington County takes on Burke County tonight in Waynesboro, but Burke County Board of Education administrative liaison Chris Henry expects no problems. He said the football field is well lit, the coaches have a good relationship and about 18 security officers will be on hand.

“I believe we have the right people in place,” said Henry, who is responsible for school safety. “You hate to say it, but I think that’s the mark of a good program.”

North Augusta plays host to South Aiken tonight in one of the area’s top rivalries. Yellow Jackets football coach and athletic director Dan Pippin said he employs 12 to 14 North Augusta police officers and six additional security officers.

Pippin said security is one of his biggest expenses, along with officiating and transportation. He added he’s not worried so much about the players as he is fans running on the field after games.

“Security is always a concern,” Pippin said. “It’s the THE concern. We try to be proactive.”

– Chris Gay, staff writer

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