A suspect in the Friday night shooting of a Richmond County sheriff's investigator was clinging to life after the officer he shot returned fire.
Benny Bauknight, 44, was shot three times when Investigator Dan Carrier fired his .40-caliber pistol after he was shot in the leg by a .22-caliber rifle, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said. The officer was treated and later released from Medical College of Georgia Hospital, he said.
At the same hospital, Mr. Bauknight was in critical condition after undergoing surgery for gunshot wounds to the abdomen and left elbow.
His criminal record in Richmond County shows only misdemeanor offenses, such as trespassing and giving false information to police.
But police say Mr. Bauknight surprised Investigator Carrier with gunfire at about 6:15 p.m. Friday as the investigators and two deputies stood outside a second-floor room of a boarding house on Fenwick Street. The investigator was there to find a suspect in an earlier shooting, which left Larry Brooks with a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Investigator Carrier, 33, was shot in the upper right leg.
"It was a clean wound, definitely not life threatening," Sheriff Strength said.
The case was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is routine when officers are involved in shootings. Investigator Carrier has been placed on paid leave during the GBI probe.
Sheriff Strength spelled out the events that led to Investigator Carrier's presence at the boarding home:
At about 5:30 p.m., Investigator Carrier was called to University Hospital, where Mr. Brooks was being treated for a gunshot wound. The victim said he was at the Fenwick Street boarding home visiting a friend and left. He said he returned to retrieve his gloves, knocked on the door and was shot once through the door.
Mr. Brooks said a friend drove him to University Hospital, where hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said he was in serious condition.
After interviewing Mr. Brooks, Investigator Carrier - along with two sheriff's deputies - went to the boarding house. Once there, they climbed the stairs, walked through the hallway and noticed a bullet hole through the door.
When the deputies tried to listen for someone in the room, Mr. Bauknight opened the door and shot Investigator Carrier in the leg with a .22-caliber rifle, the sheriff said.
The investigator returned fire with his .40-caliber Glock pistol, hitting Mr. Bauknight three times - once in the left elbow and twice in the stomach.
Investigator Carrier was taken to MCG, and Mr. Bauknight was taken to University Hospital. The suspect was later transferred to MCG, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Strength said he found nothing wrong with the way Investigator Carrier reacted.
Investigator Carrier was hired by the sheriff's office in 1996, authorities said. He was trained in high-level risk entry while at the police academy.
After Friday's shooting, an officer was sent to Jackson to drive the investigator's girlfriend to the hospital.
Sheriff Strength said he thinks very highly of Investigator Carrier.
"He is a very qualified officer; that's why he was promoted to investigator," the sheriff said.
Outside the boarding house Friday night, officers searched for evidence and kept onlookers away as they secured the scene.
Pheotis Upshaw, the owner of the boarding house, sat outside in his sport utility vehicle watching the officers. He has owned the boarding house facility for about 20 years.
Michelle Johnson, 36, of Augusta, also waited outside the building while police questioned her father, Olin Johnson, 59, a boarding house resident. "I had planned to move him from here on Sunday," Ms. Johnson said.
She said she was upset because she thinks her father pays too much money considering the condition of the building.
Investigator Scott Peebles said Mr. Johnson and other residents of the building were being questioned as part of routine investigation.
One man, who didn't want to be identified, said the area surrounding the 900 and 1000 blocks of Fenwick Street and Walton Way "is getting worse every day."
Two Richmond County Sheriff's Office investigators have survived shootings in the past two years:
NOV. 29: Violent Crimes Investigator Dan Carrier is shot in the leg while looking for a shooting suspect at a boarding home on Fenwick Street.
JULY 12, 2001: Narcotics Investigator James Tredore is shot in the lower right abdomen when a .357-caliber Magnum bullet, fired at him by a suspect during a drug raid, slams into his bullet-proof vest. After undergoing exploratory surgery to check for internal injuries, he is back on the job.
At least five local police officers and deputies have been fatally wounded in the line of duty since 1970:
JULY 16, 1997: Officer Michael D. Stephenson, a Richmond County school safety officer, is shot and killed by a burglar he had placed unhandcuffed in the back of his car after responding to an alarm at Jamestown Elementary School.
DEC. 18, 1990: Sgt. Charles Thomas Hammock of the Augusta Police Department is shot and killed while exiting his personal vehicle to go into his apartment. Police say three people shot Sgt. Hammock for no reason.
JULY 3, 1988: Officer Herbert Lee Evans Jr. of the Augusta Police Department is killed at the Law Enforcement Center in an accidental shooting by another officer.
JAN. 1, 1979: Richmond County sheriff's Deputy Larry Douglas Stevens is shot and killed while investigating a domestic dispute.
JAN. 18, 1970: Officer Jimmy O. Harris of the Augusta Police Department is shot and killed while responding to a call about a domestic dispute.
Staff Writer Tim Cox contributed to this story.
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