Hostage standoff ends in shooting

The Richmond County SWAT team ended a Christmas Day standoff by shooting a woman as she held a butcher knife to a 5-year-old's throat.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said 21/2 hours of negotiations did not appear to be easing tensions, and the woman, identified as Georgette Reid, was getting increasingly "dramatic."

Fearing for the child's life, the SWAT team set off two diversionary flash grenades and entered the Sunny Day Drive home in south Augusta.

The standoff began about 3 p.m. Thursday after a call to the police about a disturbance involving a knife, Sheriff Strength said.

When a deputy arrived, Latoya Lewis ran up to him with "severe" cuts to her head and arm, saying her son was in danger of being harmed by Ms. Reid.

Police officers tried to enter the home, but Ms. Reid refused to let them inside, barricading herself in a back room.

"We were advised by her if anybody came in she would cut the child's throat," the sheriff said.

More than a dozen marked cars, the Richmond County SWAT team and a mobile command center were dispatched to the scene. Road deputies blocked the entrance to the neighborhood and closed part of Brown Road around the area.

"The conversation was getting more dramatic with the hostage-taker, and we felt the child's life was in danger," Sheriff Strength said.

At 5:38 p.m., two loud bangs, accompanied by bright flashes, were heard behind the home.

That provided a second or two of diversion, Sheriff Strength said.

The first SWAT team member who entered the back room saw the butcher knife pressed against the child's throat, shot Ms. Reid in the shoulder, quickly grabbed the child and took him out of the room.

The conditions of the boy and Ms. Reid were not made public Thursday night. The child was undergoing surgery at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, the sheriff said.

Ms. Reid's injuries were not life-threatening, he said.

The GBI was called in to investigate, as it does routinely in police-related shootings. It was the third in Richmond County in just more than a month. Two others resulted in deaths.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

POLICE-RELATED SHOOTINGS

In less than five weeks, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office has been involved in three shootings, two resulting in deaths.

- On Nov. 24, Investigator Tim Tobias fatally shot Joseph Gooden, 26. The 21-year police veteran was working a special-duty assignment at Captain D's restaurant on Wrightboro Road when the man, armed with a BB gun, robbed the restaurant.

- On Dec. 14, Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge were responding to a tip about a man with drugs and weapons in an SUV when they boxed in Justin Leonard Elmore, 23, using their patrol cars. Police said Mr. Elmore rammed Deputy Hodge's car and drove toward Deputy Ortiz. The deputies shot Mr. Elmore, who died a few days later.

-- Michelle Guffey, staff writer

PAST SHOOTINGS

The three recent shootings were the latest since August 2007, when Deputy Ryan Giacomo shot Danny D. Hughes, 53, of Townville, S.C., during a traffic stop. According to Augusta Chronicle archives, until November, there hadn't been a fatal shooting in Richmond County by a sheriff's deputy since 2004.

-- Michelle Guffey, staff writer