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Only on 12: Richmond County SWAT team assists in Athens manhunt

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ATHENS, Ga.---Thirty different agencies, and more than 200 law enforcement officers have been working night and day in Athens, trying to find a man accused of murder.

The threat of danger didn't stop members of the Richmond County SWAT Team from gearing up and heading out where it's day three of the state manhunt for the accused cop killer.

Two Athens-Clarke County police officers were shot in the line of duty Tuesday, one died.

It's been an around-the-clock manhunt for Jamie Hood, the man accused of pulling the trigger and our local agencies are stepping in to help.

GBI, Georgia State Patrol, and The Richmond County SWAT Team spent Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in Athens, passing out fliers and looking for Hood.

They're looking from the air and in passing cars for a man accused of gunning down two Athens-Clarke County police officers.

"We have several hundred officers that are participating in the manhunt today (Thursday). They come from various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies," says GBI Director Vernon Keenan.

More than thirty agencies, including some of the CSRA's finest are on hand to help. Local GBI agents and State Troopers are some of the hundreds providing back up.

"This is a massive manhunt," explains Keenan.

"The more people we get, the smaller we can close the gap on him," adds Athens-Clarke County Police Captain Clarence Holeman.

Throughout the night, 12 members of Richmond County's SWAT Team were geared up and ready, on standby and looking for murder suspect Jamie Hood.

"It's extremely dangerous, especially with this guy you know what he will do, he's already shown what he'll do," says Sheriff Strength. Despite the danger, Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength made the call to his SWAT Team Wednesday afternoon.

"Told them to get ready, that's where they're were going, there were no questions asked, they loaded up and they took out of here," he adds.

The team geared up and went to work, spending 12 hours of the night on standby, responding to any and all sightings of hood.

"They don't get involved in the investigation part, but they definitely get involved into following up leads and possible take downs of a suspect," explains Sheriff Strength.

33-year old Hood, an ex-con, is wanted for shooting two officers during a traffic stop on Tuesday. Senior officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian died, and Senior Officer Tony Howard is recovering.

"We've got a very experienced SWAT Team, we're real proud of them and their reputation is known throughout the state," adds Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

It's an emotional crime that hits home for The Athens-Clarke County Police Department, and for so many of the officers out searching by their side.

"That shows the support for the police and it's all one family. It's like a brotherhood, so when something happens, if something happens somewhere else we'd do the same thing so we appreciate everybody coming up and everybody's support," says Capt. Holeman.

"Main thing we want to do is get him off the road before he hurts somebody else," a Grovetown Georgia State Trooper explains as he passes out fliers.

Just miles from The University of Georgia campus, officers spent the night handing out fliers and alerting business owners.

"We believe we are on the right track that he remains in the community," says Keenan.

After more than 48 hours of searching, authorities still believe Hood is nearby. "We're gonna catch him, and hopefully we'll do it today," stresses Capt. Holeman.

There is a hefty reward of $50,000 for the tip that leads to Hood. The GBI says they are getting hundreds and hundreds of leads.

While they are searching on and around UGA's campus, they're focusing most of their efforts on the East side of town.

The GBI says they are getting hundreds, and hundreds of leads. Overnight, Richmond County's SWAT was the primary team responding to any credible leads or sightings. The Sheriff tells us the team is resting now, but may head back to Athens if they're still needed.

We're told local Athens officers are working on shifts but are not taking days off at least through the weekend.


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