Summerville residents more vigilant one year after burglar shooting by judge

The summer has been quiet for residents in Summerville.

Last year was a different story.

David Dunagan, the chairman of the Summerville Crime Watch Committee, said that last summer he was sending about two crime alerts to neighbors each week.

One year ago today, Dunagan alerted neighbors that Judge Carlisle Overstreet had shot and killed an intruder in his Cumming Road home.

“It made everybody vigilant. I had my gun ready,” said Joe Neal Jr., the president of Summerville Neighborhood Association. “When you have someone break into your house, that’s about as scary as it gets – especially when you’re home.”

Authorities said Overstreet overheard voices about 4 a.m., got his gun and discovered 20-year-old John E. Howard Jr. coming down the stairs with a bandana around his face and socks on his hands. Overstreet fired, striking Howard in the chest.

Howard was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No weapon was found on him.

The only item missing from the home was a laptop computer.

Another suspect, William Omar Jacobs, 22, surrendered the following day. Jacobs is scheduled to stand trial next week.

Authorities do not believe Overstreet was a target. Because the burglars made a loud entry into the home and Overstreet’s vehicle was out of view, investigators believe the burglars thought the house was empty when they tossed a rock through the glass door and made their way through the home.

Overstreet refused an interview request from The Augusta Chronicle about the incident.

After the shooting, the neighborhood association saw a significant increase in membership.

“Unfortunately, Summerville seems to be surrounded by pockets of crime,” Neal said.

He pointed to the Bon Air Apartments, where a homicide took place in June of this year, and Harrisburg, which has become “overrun with Section 8 housing” and more bad pockets along Wrightsboro Road.

The crime watch membership includes e-mail alerts about criminal or suspicious activities in the neighborhood.

So far this year, crime alerts have been sparse, coming only once every three weeks or so.

“It’s been a very quiet summer, and we’d like to think that the Overstreet shooting put the word on the streets that these people are possibly armed and protecting themselves,” Dunagan said.

According to Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles, crime has dropped across the county.

Records show that burglaries for 2011 are generally lower than the previous year. In July, there were 128 fewer burglaries than the same month in 2010, according to Chronicle archives.

Neal said the neighborhood will continue to be vigilant against crime despite what crime statistics show.

“Criminals prey on the weak. They’re lazy and looking for something easy,” he said. “If they’re being watched, they’re going to go someplace else.”

Judge shoots intruder who broke in through window
Overstreet has been active in deterring break-ins
Summerville has been fighting increased crime