Breakup is suspected catalyst

An attempt to break off a romantic relationship might have led to a Christmas Day hostage situation that ended with a woman being shot by police at a south Richmond County home.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said that while it is still early in the investigation and details haven't been verified yet, officers believe that when Latoya N. Lewis told Georgette P. Reid she wanted to end the relationship, Ms. Reid allegedly attacked her with a butcher knife.

Ms. Lewis and Ms. Reid's 14-year-old daughter escaped from the house on Sunny Day Drive and called 911, the sheriff said. Ms. Reid and Ms. Lewis' 5-year-old son remained inside.

When hostage negotiators couldn't get Ms. Reid to release the child, SWAT team members set off two diversionary flash grenades and pushed their way into a barricaded bedroom, finding Ms. Reid with an 8-inch butcher knife to the boy's throat, the sheriff said. Deputy Scott White, a member of the SWAT team, shot Ms. Reid once in the upper chest.

"He probably saved the boy's life," Sheriff Strength said of Deputy White's actions.

Ms. Reid and Ms. Lewis and her son were hospitalized Thursday afternoon. Sheriff Strength said Ms. Reid was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, but a spokeswoman said it had no record of her.

Sheriff Strength said Deputy White had no choice but to shoot. Officers tried for more than two hours to calm Ms. Reid but she continued to scream and threaten to kill the boy, he said. When officers feared she was at the point of physically harming the child, they busted through the bedroom door, he said.

Neighbors told officers that one or both women were in the military. A woman's Army uniform was found at the house, Sheriff Strength said.

A database search of public records showed Ms. Reid was in the service in the late 1990s and might have served in Korea.

Since the case involved a police shooting, the criminal investigation has been turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The shooting is the third time that Deputy White has been involved in such an incident. In 1997 and 2004, he was involved in the fatal shootings of two people who had aimed weapons at officers. Both shootings were ruled justified.

Ms. Reid, 32, and Ms. Lewis, 26, lived together with their children on 2204 Sunny Day Drive. According to city property records, Ms. Lewis bought the home June 4 for $167,900.

Neither Ms. Reid nor Ms. Lewis had anything more serious than a traffic ticket since they moved to the Augusta area this year.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

OFFICER HAS SHOT BEFORE

Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy Scott White was involved in two prior shootings. Both were ruled justified after GBI investigations.

DEC. 29, 1997: Deputy White was investigating a suspicious-person call on Turkey Trail when 46-year-old David C. Graham fired a gun at the deputy, who returned fire. Mr. Graham was killed.

OCT. 7, 2004: Deputy White and two other members of the SWAT unit fired at 40-year-old Rebecca Key when she pointed a weapon at the officers. Ms. Key, who had barricaded herself with a weapon inside a Walnut Street house, was killed.