Sat., March 26, 2011 9:14am (EDT)

Suspect in Ga. officer's slaying surrenders on TV
By Dorie Turner, Associated Press
Updated: 3 years ago

ATHENS, Ga.  —  
Shown here in a previous mug shot, Jamie Hood walked out of an apartment late Friday night shirtless and surrounded by five of the nine adults and children he had held captive for hours as he negotiated with federal, state and local authorities. It was a prime-time ending to a four-day manhunt around this quiet college town for Hood, who authorities say killed one police officer and wounded another Tuesday.
Shown here in a previous mug shot, Jamie Hood walked out of an apartment late Friday night shirtless and surrounded by five of the nine adults and children he had held captive for hours as he negotiated with federal, state and local authorities. It was a prime-time ending to a four-day manhunt around this quiet college town for Hood, who authorities say killed one police officer and wounded another Tuesday.
Holding five hostages in an apartment surrounded by police, the suspect in the slaying of a Georgia police officer made an unusual request to negotiators - he wanted to surrender on live TV.

Jamie Hood, 33, walked out of the apartment late Friday night shirtless and surrounded by five of the nine adults and children he had held captive for hours as he negotiated with federal, state and local authorities. It was a prime-time ending to a four-day manhunt around this quiet college town for Hood, who authorities say killed one police officer and wounded another Tuesday.

The tattooed, head-shaven Hood was immediately swarmed by tactical officers in green fatigues and wielding high-powered guns, patting him down and ordering him to the ground. He did not resist.

"He was convinced he was going to be killed by law enforcement," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan, who an hour earlier had gone before TV cameras to promise Hood that he would not be harmed if he turned himself in and freed the hostages.

Keenan said Hood, whose brother had been killed by police a decade earlier while Hood was in prison, insisted that his surrender be broadcast live by a news camera crew to ensure he was not harmed.

Investigators said they believe Hood was using cocaine on Friday and that he was armed with a firearm during the standoff.

Police had been searching for Hood since Tuesday, when Athens-Clarke County police officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian was shot and killed while police say he attempted to apprehend Hood. Another officer, Tony Howard, was shot in the face and upper body, and is recovering from his wounds.

The four-day manhunt for Hood led authorities to several locations around Athens-Clarke County, about 75 miles northeast of Atlanta, as they received a flurry of tips about where he might be hiding. Officers descended on an area in east Athens, surrounding an apartment complex and barricading nearby roads.

As the search intensified, Hood reached out to police around 3:40 p.m. on Friday and asked to talk to authorities about surrendering, Keenan said. He told police he was afraid for his life and that he would harm the hostages if his demands were not met, Keenan said.

After hours of negotiations, Hood agreed around 9 p.m. to free four hostages, which authorities saw as a promising sign. Initial reports were that he had eight hostages.

Television cameras trained at the apartment's door showed him emerging along with the remaining hostages, single file and hands in the air, around 11:15 p.m. He was later led to a police car, where TV cameras showed him calmly talking.

Hood's family members and residents from area neighborhoods gathered to watch the hostage situation unfold at a media encampment at a church parking lot near the apartment complex. Several of Hood's relatives waited for updates and prayed it would end without bloodshed.

The suspect's relatives cried and hugged when they saw on TV that he had emerged peacefully.

"I'm just very sorry this all had to happen," said Hood's sister, Jennifer Hood.


The people who emerged with Hood were led away by officers and were questioned, Keenan said. Authorities say the nine hostages included a toddler, an infant and a 13-year-old girl. None of the hostages appeared to be injured, Keenan said, and investigators were trying to determine how Hood knew them.

Quinton Riden, one of the hostages, said Hood didn't threaten them or treat them badly during the ordeal. He said he and Hood are acquaintances.

"Jamie didn't do no harm to none of us," Riden said outside the Athens-Clarke County police station after being questioned by police early Saturday. "He treated us like family."


Police gave this account of Tuesday's fatal shooting:

Officers stopped Hood while he was in an SUV in West Athens around 1 p.m. Tuesday, seeking to question him in connection with a carjacking and kidnapping. The vehicle's driver was arrested, but police say Hood got out of the vehicle and shot and wounded Howard, striking him in the face and the upper body. He then fatally shot Christian as he sat in the patrol car, authorities said.

Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin called the shooting a police ambush, and described Hood as a "career criminal" with associates in the city's murky criminal world.

Hood was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1997 on armed robbery charges and was released in 2009. In 2001, while Hood was serving time, his 22-year-old brother Timothy Hood was shot and killed by an Athens police officer. Investigators said at the time that Timothy Hood pulled a gun on an officer, and was shot and killed when the weapon jammed.

Jennifer Hood said her brother Jamie coached a children's football team and played sports in high school, and that he never missed a family event. She said he came to her house Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting, but she was in the shower and he left before she could see him.

"I wish there had been something I could have said or done," she said.

Police are expecting thousands of people to attend Sunday's funeral for Christian, who was an 8-year veteran of the Athens police department. Christian, 34, was married with two young children.


Contributors: Associated Press Writer Greg Bluestein in Atlanta contributed to this report.