A Richmond County sheriff’s deputy was shot at least nine times Sunday, but not before firing three rounds from his weapon and hitting his assailant in the left forearm, preliminary autopsy findings show.
The findings give further insight into the gun battle between Deputy James D. Paugh, 47, and Tennessee National Guardsman Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, about 1 a.m. on Bobby Jones Expressway at Gordon Highway.
Paugh, a 17-year-veteran of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, was riding his traffic enforcement motorcycle home from a special detail at the Augusta Exchange Club Fairgrounds when he noticed Hodges’ Cadillac pulled over on the side of the road.
Investigators say that Hodges was drunk and arguing with his girlfriend and that some of the 42 rounds fired from his M4 assault rifle were at passing cars.
Paugh passed the Cadillac and turned around after seeing something suspicious; he didn’t have time to put the kickstand down on his motorcycle before shots were fired at him. The deputy fired his gun three times before it was disabled by a bullet from Hodges’ rifle.
Lab results indicate that Hodges then shot himself in the head with his semiautomatic rifle, which had been purchased at Outpost Armory in Christiana, Tenn., according to a news release.
Paugh was not wearing a bulletproof vest, but a standard-issue vest would not have protected him from the M4’s bullets, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said.
On Tuesday, Fort Gordon spokesman Buz Yarnell said Hodges was training with the 73rd Ordnance Battalion to become a repairman for air traffic control equipment. His commanding officer had no issues with Hodges, and no actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice had been taken against him during his time in Augusta. Hodges was scheduled to graduate Nov. 9.
Strength signed a special order Monday retiring Paugh’s call sign, T-31, “in honor of our fallen brother.”