Police officer from SoCal killed in Atlanta
ATLANTA — Police in Georgia are searching for a man suspected of killing a police officer who was answering a call about a suspicious vehicle near a middle school, authorities said.
Gwinnett County officer Antwan Toney, originally from Southern California, had been with the department for almost three years.
Tafahree Maynard, 18, has been charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the killing of Toney on Saturday, the county’s police department said. Maynard was still at large late Sunday afternoon.
A second suspect, Isaiah Pretlow, 19, was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault, police said.
Toney, 30, was responding to an anonymous 911 call reporting a suspicious vehicle parked near Shiloh Middle School on Saturday afternoon when he was killed, police Chief Butch Ayers said. The caller believed the vehicle occupants might have been smoking marijuana.
The officer was approaching the car when, police say, Maynard fired a weapon from inside the vehicle and struck him.
Another officer returned fire and dragged Toney away. He died at a hospital, Sgt. Jake Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department said.
Police have not released details about Toney’s injuries and have not said whether anyone in the suspects’ car was hit or how many shots were fired.
After the shooting, the suspects’ four-door black sedan sped away and crashed about a mile away. The suspects fled. Police believe Pretlow was driving the car and that as many as four people were inside.
“They fled the scene and crashed without an officer in hot pursuit,” Smith said.
At some point after running from the car, Pretlow pointed a gun at an officer and the officer fired his weapon at him, police said. Pretlow, who was not injured, is facing an aggravated assault charge stemming from that encounter. He ran to a wooded area but was arrested hours later by US Marshals, police said.
Police presence was heavy Saturday evening in neighborhoods a few miles east of Stone Mountain as officers and SWAT and K-9 teams searched for those who fled the car. A helicopter was also seeing flying above the vicinity of the middle school.
Officer was ‘a jovial person’
Before Toney was an officer, he had been a security guard, police said. His Gwinnett colleagues “recall a very jovial person who was dedicated to his job and dedicated to his community,” Ayers said.
A memorial was set up in front of police headquarters in Lawrenceville and flags there were at half-staff.
Gwinnett County is in the metropolitan Atlanta area and has 920,000 residents. Toney’s killing is the first line-of-duty death in the county since May 1993, when an officer was killed in a traffic incident. Three officers were shot to death in April 1964.
Toney’s death was the second fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer this week. North Carolina State Trooper Kevin K. Conner was killed Wednesday during a traffic stop near the border with South Carolina. A suspect was taken into custody.