continued from page rison apprehended ….
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rison apprehended a man who was known to be an associate of Ferguson’s.
Wilkes said Officer Harrison was on duty when he made contact with a man for a traffic violation in the parking lot of the Circle K located across the street from the Alamo Police Department. Officer Harrison asked the man for his name and identification and the man refused. The man got into a verbal altercation with Officer Harrison that escalated into the man pushing the officer. Officer Harrison attempted to place the man under arrest. The man did not comply which led to the officer discharging his Taser. The man, whose identity was not disclosed by authorities, was arrested and taken to the Wheeler County Jail. It is believed that the ambush-style attack on Officer Harrison was in retaliation for the incident and arrest of the man.
On Saturday around 2:30 p.m., a SWAT team arrived in Wheeler County by helicopter and joined other authorities in the manhunt for Ferguson. A “Blue Alert” was issued for Ferguson and a $18,500 reward was offered for information leading to his capture. Blue alerts are issued when a suspect accused of killing or seriously injuring a law enforcement officer remains at large.
Ferguson has had previous encounters with the law. He spent more than seven years in prison after being convicted of charges including theft by taking and aggravated assault on an officer in Wheeler County. He was released from the Coffee Correctional Facility in August 2006, Georgia Department of Corrections records show.
In 2020, Ferguson was arrested and charged with felony arson in the first degree following a fire on February 5, 2020, which displaced a mother and her children. He was booked into the Wheeler County Jail February 12, 2020, after an investigation by the state fire marshal, Wheeler County EMA/Fire and the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office. He was out on bond when the shooting occurred.
Officer Harrison lived in Laurens County. In addition to his role with the Alamo Police Department, he was a full-time agent with the Oconee Drug Task Force in Dodge County. He began his career in 2015 as an emergency dispatcher in Laurens County, state records show. In 2017, he started working for the campus police department at Middle Georgia State University, eventually reaching the rank of sergeant.
He graduated from the public safety training academy in Monroe County in 2018. Between September 2018 and May 2020, he worked part-time for the Cochran Police Department. He also worked as a deputy in Dodge County, serving full-time as an agent on the drug task force.
The Alamo Police Department, where Harrison had just started, is a relatively small police force serving a population of about 3,300 residents. Harrison was the first Alamo officer killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks law enforcement deaths. In January, Alamo police Officer Arturo Villegas died from COVID-19 complications.
At least five Georgia officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, but nearly two dozen more have died from COVID, according to the page. Seven Georgia officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020.
Alamo Mayor Pamela Lee, who attended the press conference on Saturday, said, “It’s a sad day in Alamo. I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families involved. We are going to get through this with lots of prayer.”
Following the press conference, Alamo City Councilman Bobby Cox, said, “It’s a sad day for Alamo for this to happen. It was his first day on the job and this had to happen to him. We have lost two officers this year which is unusual for a little town like Alamo,” he said of Officers Villegas and Harrison. He said the city tries to keep four to five full-time officers and a couple of parttime officers. “Right now, we are in process of hiring two more officers to have a full force,” he said.
In a tweet, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said it was “deeply saddened” by the news of the officer’s death.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Alamo Police Department’s officer killed in the line of duty early this morning,” the state agency said. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the officer’s family.”
Gov. Brian Kemp also shared his condolences following the early morning shooting, writing “our thoughts and prayers are with this officer’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Assisting the GBI in the investigation are the Alamo Police Department, the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Department of Corrections, the U.S Marshal’s Service/ Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Georgia State Patrol, Department of Community Supervision, the Oconee Drug Task Force, the Oconee District Attorney’s Office, the McRae-Helena and Eastman Police Departments, and the Sheriff’s Offices of Laurens, Treutlen, Dodge, Telfair, and Montgomery counties.
During the Sunday evening press conference, Alamo Police Chief Karen Zanders took the podium to express her gratitude to the various law enforcement teams who assisted in the investigation and the capture of the suspect. She also thanked the community for its support.
“Officer Harrison was a husband, a son, and more importantly, the father of a six-month old boy. His life was taken from him for simply doing his job. Despite the sadness we have endured, I have felt a sense of pride in seeing everyone pull together to right this tragic wrong. Thanks to my staff and the City of Alamo for continued support and to the public safety community near and far. We will never forget the ultimate sacrifice Officer Harrison made to ensure the safety of each one of us.”
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the GBI at 1-800-597-8477 or submit tips to the agency’s website.