It appears the man – identified as Joseph Crist, 58, of Sullivan, Ill. – intended to have police kill him, Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Crist was speaking to his brother, who lives in Arizona, and threatening himself. His brother called the Georgia State Patrol, and a trooper alerted Columbia County authorities that the man was likely armed and threatening suicide, according to Morris.
Deputies found Crist about 6:25 p.m. on the interstate under the Chamblin Road overpass. His van had a flat tire, and he was holding a .45-caliber handgun but didn’t threaten deputies. He refused to give up the weapon and surrender, Morris said.
Authorities set up a perimeter and shut down the interstate between the Harlem and Grovetown exits and the Chamblin Road bridge for the safety of the public during the four hours that crisis negotiators tried to “de-escalate the situation,” Morris said.
About 10:45 p.m., Crist raised his weapon at deputies.
“They fired several less-lethal rounds, and that was ineffective,” Morris said. “It did not stop the threat.”
Deputies fired several nonlethal 40 mm sponge rounds and 12-gauge shotgun bean bag rounds at the man, but he didn’t lower his weapon, Morris said.
Crist was then shot and killed. An autopsy is scheduled at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta.
Deputy Joseph Baker, 29, fired the fatal shot and was put on administrative leave, which is protocol while the sheriff’s office completes an investigation, Morris said. He expects the final report to be complete in a week or two, but a preliminary report should be ready sooner.