Originally created 09/19/00

Across the area



COLUMBIA COUNTY
GBI continues its inquiry of shooting

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is continuing its examination of a weekend shooting that killed a 47-year-old Grovetown man.

"The case is still under investigation, and at this point we have nothing to say," GBI Special Agent Martin Moses said.

Gary Lee Cooper was shot in the chest at his residence by Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Tim Powell after Mr. Cooper fired at officers Saturday, police said. He was pronounced dead at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

The shooting occurred at about 2:45 p.m., after police escorted Mr. Cooper's girlfriend, Patricia Shannon, to his Cooper Road residence to pick up some of her belongings. Ms. Shannon had asked for the escort because of an argument she said she had had with Mr. Cooper the night before.

On Friday, a magistrate had issued felony warrants for one count of terroristic threats and one count of criminal damage to property in the second degree. The warrants had not been served.

Deputy Powell is on administrative leave with pay during the investigation, which is standard procedure.

NORTH AUGUSTA
City gives OK to tax reduction

If a proposed 1 percent countywide tax is approved by Aiken County voters in November, North Augusta will lower its hospitality tax from 2 percent to 1 percent.

The North Augusta City Council voted unanimously Monday night to cut the hospitality tax in half if the county tax passes.

The Aiken County Council voted in August to place a 1 percent capital projects sales tax on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. The proceeds from the tax will fund specific capital projects throughout the county and North Augusta.

The council also unanimously approved three categories of improvements to be paid for with the tax. The street resurfacing program will receive $850,000; the street reconstruction program will get $1.6 million; and phase one of the sidewalk construction program will receive $753,000.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Man reports stabbing intruder

BEECH ISLAND - A Beech Island man told police he stabbed a man in the back late Sunday when he found two men tampering with his window, authorities said.

Barry LaFavor was asleep in his home on McClain Street at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday when he heard a noise outside and went to investigate and discovered the two men at his window, sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Michael Frank said.

Mr. LaFavor was hit in the face, but he fought back and stabbed his attacker in the back with a steak knife, police said. Both intruders escaped into a wooded area.

Sheriff's officers assisted by the Aiken Bloodhound Team began a search of the area but found nothing.

Anyone with information can call the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at (803) 642-1761 or (800) 922-3211, or Crime Stoppers at (803) 642-1798. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

AUGUSTA
Library reopening postponed

Originally scheduled for today, the grand reopening of the Wallace Branch of the Augusta public library has been postponed, according to library officials.

The library at 1237 Laney-Walker Blvd., however, will have an open house at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 26 to celebrate a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said Tijuana Gaines of the library's publicity department.

As part of the renovations, the Wallace Branch will house a computer lab. Eleven computers from the Gateses' foundation will go to the Wallace Branch; four others will go to the main branch.

GEORGIA
Marina fire causes damage

BUFORD - A weekend marina fire at Lake Lanier has left a suburban Atlanta man severely burned and caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage.

Christopher Lunch, 47, of Doraville was taken by helicopter to the burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta early Saturday after suffering burns on 30 percent of his body. He was in stable condition Monday.

Mr. Lunch and two women were on a houseboat at the Holiday Marina, where the fire apparently originated shortly before 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Hall County Fire Battalion Chief Sherman Gilleland said.

Firefighters fought the blaze for about five hours. "It's a different kind of fire," Chief Gilleland said. "It's just like a subdivision floating out there."

The four houseboats, which sank in 75 feet of water, accounted for most of the $1.1 million estimated loss.

GEORGIA
Sisters find stolen car, child

ATLANTA - Two sisters walking to a school bus stop Monday morning spotted a car that had been stolen the night before while the owner's 8-year-old son slept in the back seat.

Atlanta and DeKalb County police had been looking for Rodney Campbell Jr. all night. His father, Rodney Campbell Sr., had parked his gold 1990 Cadillac on the street in southeast Atlanta, leaving the keys in the ignition and his son asleep in the back. Mr. Campbell discovered the car and boy were missing at about 9 p.m. Sunday.

Joretta Partridge, 11, and her sister Jamila, 12, left for school at about 7:30 a.m., saw the car parked near their home and suspected it might be the one they had heard about on morning news reports.

The girls ran home to alert their father, who came out to find the sleeping boy and then called police.

Rodney, hungry but unharmed, was quickly reunited with Mr. Campbell. Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said no arrests had been made.

GEORGIA
Suspect guilty of stabbings

DALTON - A Whitfield County jury took less than 30 minutes to convict a man of stabbing his wife and killing her twin sister.

Harry James Rich, 54, was found guilty of murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault for the Feb. 9 attack against his wife, Brenda Sue Alexander, and her sister Glenda Kay Terrell.

Juror Anthony Scott said after the verdict was delivered Thursday that the jury had "no doubt that he was guilty."

Mr. Rich's attorney, Jerry Moncus, said he would appeal. Mr. Moncus said Mr. Rich was "disappointed" by the sentence, which "guarantees he will spend the balance of his life in jail."

Mr. Rich was sentenced to 20 years for each of the aggravated battery and aggravated assault charges against his wife, which were added to the life sentence for Ms. Terrell's murder.

SOUTH CAROLINA
State fire fatalities increase

GREENVILLE - More people died in fires in South Carolina in 1999 than the previous year, but fire officials say the state is making progress.

Figures from the state fire marshal's office show 79 people died in fires last year. That's up from 69 in 1998.

Nationally, 3,570 people died in fires last year, down 11 percent from the 1998 figures.

"South Carolina overall has reduced the number of fire deaths rather dramatically over the past few years," Greenville fire Chief Tom McDowell said.

The state has employed a series of public service announcements and education programs, especially in schools, to try to reduce fire deaths, said Jim Knight, a spokesman for the fire marshal's office.

"It's hoped that children will take the fire safety lesson home and share them with their families," Mr. Knight said.