Deputy J.D. Paugh's stepbrother: 'Our family appreciates all the support'

By: Sheli Muniz Email
By: Sheli Muniz Email
Eric Groothand

Eric Groothand took us through his life. A life he shared mostly with his stepbrother, J.D. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 24, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Oct. 24, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Richmond County Deputy James D. Paugh died early Sunday morning after stopping to check out a parked car. At the time, Deputy Paugh wasn't aware the man inside had been shooting at passing cars.

The sheriff says this man, Christopher Hodges, was the man behind it all. The 2004 Evans High School graduate then took his own life.
Hodges was a member of the Tennessee National Guard and training at Fort Gordon.

News 12 sat down with Deputy Paugh's stepbrother.

Eric Groothand took us through his life. A life he shared mostly with his stepbrother, J.D.

"It's what we can do right there, hug him again," Groothand says this as he looks at a photo of J.D. being hugged.

"He was always there for people, you needed something, he was always there no matter what," he said.

Groothand shows us photos of them as kids.

"This is J.D., of course, cameras are on, he's going to get his picture."

"First and foremost, he was a family man. He cared a lot about his family, his whole family," Groothand said.

It's a family mourning a deep loss and facing many questions.

Groothand recalled when he heard about J.D.'s death.

"My wife came to me with a tear in her eye and she said, 'J.D.'s dead.' I said, 'What?' I never saw that coming. I was just completely shocked," he said. "My first emotion was sadness, but shortly after was anger."

Groothand's family is now overwhelmed with support.

"As soon as we came over the hill and saw the crowd of people in the parking lot, it was really nice, really nice," he said.

He's talking about the hundreds of people who turned for a Sunday night vigil at the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Some people say J.D.'s actions were heroic.

"If J.D. hadn't rolled up there and that guy would have continued to shoot, he could have very easily killed who knows how many people," Groothand said.

"When something like this happens, you remember the smiles, the good times. He was a good man, a good man," said Groothand as he looked through photos.

"The family, his brothers, his mother and father, his sons, they appreciate all the support from the community. They really do, it helps a lot, it really does."

News 12 has set up a special page to remember Deputy Paugh. To view it, click here.


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