Deputy on desk after fatal shooting

A Richmond County sheriff's investigator has been placed on administrative duty after fatally shooting a bandit during a robbery at an Augusta fast-food restaurant Monday night.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Tuesday that Investigator Tim Tobias shot Joseph Gooden, 26, of the 3000 block of Golden Way, after Mr. Gooden robbed the Captain D's restaurant on Wrightsboro Road.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, and Investigator Tobias, 41, a 21-year veteran who was working a special-duty assignment at the restaurant, has been placed on administrative duty.

"He will not be on the street until the investigation is completed," Sheriff Strength said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

An assignment to administrative work is standard practice after officers are involved in shootings.

According to an account provided by the sheriff and others, Mr. Gooden ran into the restaurant between 7:30 and 8 p.m., pointed what appeared to be a rifle or shotgun at a female employee and demanded cash.

The woman fled to the restaurant's office, where the manager was counting money. Mr. Gooden reportedly followed, pointed his gun, which turned out to be an air rifle -- a BB gun -- at the manager's head and took the money.

"We were told by one of the witnesses that when the guy came in with the weapon, Investigator Tobias was sitting and tying his shoe," Sheriff Strength said. "So he was bent over and evidently the suspect didn't notice him and ran straight past him to the office area."

Investigator Tobias confronted Mr. Gooden as he tried to leave the restaurant and told him to halt. When he kept coming, witnesses said, the uniformed deputy fired, striking Mr. Gooden in the chest. The suspect collapsed and was later pronounced dead at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Four employees and two customers were in the store at the time of the robbery.

This is the first time a deputy has had to fire his weapon this year, according to police. The last shooting occurred in August 2007, when Deputy Ryan Giacomo shot Danny D. Hughes, 53, of Townville, S.C., during a traffic stop. When the deputy attempted to take Mr. Hughes into custody because of some outstanding warrants, Mr. Hughes began to drive away. Deputy Giacomo was being dragged by the suspect's vehicle when he fired one shot at Mr. Hughes's left arm. Mr. Hughes survived the shooting.

According to The Augusta Chronicle 's records, the most recent fatal shooting in Richmond County by a sheriff's deputy occurred in 2004, a year that saw three fatal officer-involved shootings. Rebecca Key, 40, was shot by three SWAT team members during a standoff.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.