Richmond County sheriff's deputies reacted quickly but carefully Sunday after the shooting of a suspect by two officers in the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing project.
Sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said about 30 units responded to the scene after the 4:21 p.m. shooting.
The crowd seemed to grow in size and hostility, witnesses said, as rumors spread that the suspect had been killed and that a child had been inside his car. Neither was true.
Deputies at the scene said they were told to avoid confrontations with civilians, some of whom threw rocks and bottles at them.
Deputies left the area just after 6:30 p.m., Lt. Peebles said, but returned about an hour later when firefighters were attacked with rocks and bottles.
Several fires sprang up around the neighborhood after nightfall, mostly in large trash bins, but officials decided to let them burn themselves out.
"When we left they started setting cars on fire; setting Dumpsters on fire," Lt. Peebles said. "So we are back down there and have it under high-intensity patrol."
Police routed traffic away from the area and advised members of the media to stay away, as well.
Outside the Richmond County Law Enforcement Center late Sunday night, numerous patrol cars and unmarked Sheriff's Office vehicles came and went, at times filling the front parking lot.
"Oh, what a night, what a night, what a night," one deputy said as he rushed into the office.
There was one arrest for disorderly conduct on 15th Street about 9 p.m., but it was not known whether it was linked to the Sunday disturbance.
Reach Adam Folk and Preston Sparks at (706) 724-0851.