Three people were shot Monday in Oglethorpe County near Athens when a man went on a rampage that started out as a domestic dispute the night before.
The only fatality was the unborn child of the man’s former girlfriend. The unborn child died after the gunman shot his ex-girlfriend and threw her from a moving truck while being chased by police. The woman is in critical condition at Athens Regional Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.
The gunman, identified as 23-year-old Ryan Edgar Arnold, engaged deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers in two shootouts, one during a vehicle chase and another at a logging site where Arnold commandeered an 18-wheeler that crashed into several police cars.
Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith said Arnold shot the logging truck’s driver when he refused to ram the police cars. He then took the wheel and drove the truck into the police vehicles. That is when two deputies and a state trooper fired on the truck and wounded Arnold, incapacitating him so he could be taken into custody.
The incident began at about 1 a.m. Monday, at the suspect’s home on Arnolds Place off Centerville Road. Deputies responded there on anonymous calls concerning some sort of domestic disturbance.
Smith said no one came to the door of the home when the deputies knocked, but at one point the back door flew open and a gunshot was fired from inside the home toward an open field. Because there was no evidence of anyone in the home except for the person who shot, Smith said he called off the deputies and returned later in the morning when daylight returned.
Smith said phone contact was made with Arnold, who indicated he was in the home with his former girlfriend. Arnold allowed the woman to speak with the sheriff, who said the woman indicated she was not harmed and was not being held against her will.
After long negotiations with Arnold, attempting to provide visual proof the woman was unharmed, a decision was made to call in a GSP SWAT team, Smith said. While SWAT team members were getting prepared to make entry to the house, Arnold bolted with the woman in tow into some nearby woods where he got into a truck and drove off. Smith said deputies and state troopers gave chase, and at one point Arnold threw the woman from his truck. Smith said while some officers stopped to render aid to the woman, others continued the chase. He did not know if Arnold shot the woman in the truck or while they were in the house.
Arnold shot at the officers who were pursuing him, then abandoned his truck and ran into a some woods near the Wilkes County line and surfaced at a logging site where Arnold climbed into a tractor with a high-powered rifle. Arnold apparently thought about making a stand there, but then commandeered an 18-wheeler logging truck and at gunpoint made the driver drive.
Two Oglethorpe County deputies, a state trooper and a deputy from Wilkes County tried to block the truck from leaving, Smith said, and when the truck driver would not obey Arnold’s command to ram the vehicles, Arnold shot the driver and took the wheel of the truck and drove it into the police vehicles, at which time the officers opened fire on the truck and wounded Arnold.
The truck driver, who Smith said suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was taken to the hospital by helicopter. The woman was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center, where she underwent emergency surgery. The woman lost her unborn child and was said to be in critical condition.
Authorities did not released the identity of the wounded truck driver as of early Tuesday afternoon, and his condition was unknown.
Arnold was also taken to a hospital in Athens, and his condition was said to be serious but stable.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting as an investigation continues. Smith said GBI agents had obtained “numerous” search warrants for various locations.
“A clearer picture as to what happened will take time,” the GBI said in a news release Tuesday. “The GBI will conduct a thorough and independent investigation and formal charges will be filed against Arnold. The completed investigation will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for further action.”