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Murder suspect confirms affair with victim, facing charges after 8-hour standoff

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 5:26 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — A murder suspect is behind bars for the killing of his girlfriend, after an almost eight-hour standoff with deputies on Thursday.

Jason Cunningham, a former Richmond County sheriff’s deputy, is wanted in connection with the shooting death of a woman who was found dead in a downtown Augusta parking deck.

Nicole Harrington, 37, of Hallandale Beach, Fla., was found shot to death in the parking deck of the Augusta Convention Center around 6 a.m. Thursday.

News 12 obtained an affidavit stating that Cunningham told investigators he was having an affair with the victim, Nicole Harrington and went to meet her in the parking lot to end it. He said she “became irate,” and the two started to argue. He said she was loud, and he “didn’t know what to do.” He confessed to shooting her in the back of the head as she got into the elevator.

“Around 9:45 this morning, we received a call from Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, telling us that they had credible information that the murder suspect was in this area near the lake,” Captain Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, said, yesterday.

Later in the morning, dozens of deputies from Richmond and Columbia counties, Fort Gordon Military Police and the Georgia Department of Public Safety responded to the Pointes West Army Resort near Clarks Hill Lake after Cunningham’s vehicle was spotted there.

Investigators say the standoff started when Cunningham pointed a loaded weapon. At 5:43 p.m. officials confirmed that Cunningham was taken into custody. Two loaded guns were found in his possession after he surrendered.

“Time is our friend so we’re willing to wait it out and we were successful today,” Captain Morris said, yesterday.

He has been booked into Richmond County jail, according to jail records. Cunningham faces charges of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Cunningham was a Richmond County deputy before leaving the job in February 2018.

He also handled fundraising and marketing at Forces United, resigning less than two months ago. A statement from the organization read: “During his tenure, he was dedicated to our mission in serving veterans and very involved in the community. We are praying for everyone involved in this situation.”

A friend says Cunningham is a good father and husband.

“I know what’s going on in the media right now and people are saying on FB is a bad image of him, but he’s not,” Jeff Pagac said.

Her autopsy is scheduled for today at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab. She was the second homicide victim of the morning in Augusta, but the cases are apparently not related.

Messages of condolences to the grieving family and friends of Nicole Harrington circled Facebook, remembering her as a mom, sister, and friend.

Read the arrest warrants for Cunningham:

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