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Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of code enforcement officer

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 10:25 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the primary suspect has been arrested for the murder of Richmond County Code Enforcement Officer Charles “Chip” Case.

According to a news release, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office arrested Smitty Oliver Melton on Thursday afternoon with the assistance from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Richmond County Code Enforcement.

Melton was located in Aiken County, S.C.

Melton will be held in Aiken County pending extradition to Augusta to face charges of murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Charles "Chip" Case
Charles "Chip" Case(WRDW)

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as a code enforcement agent, Charles Case, who was killed Thursday morning in a shooting in a neighborhood.

Sheriff’s Office investigators were called to the scene around 9:53 a.m. on 13th Avenue. Case, along with other code enforcement officials, were at the scene when the shots broke out.

The nature of the original county investigation which prompted the code enforcement is still unclear, but we did find it may be related to unpaid taxes. Records show the county tax commissioner filed a case against the suspect, 65-year-old Smitty Melton, back in December.

Code enforcement is the agency that helps with cases connected to tax delinquency, blighted homes, and the overall safety of buildings and structures.

On Thursday, an enforcement team went out to serve Melton some kind of notice. That’s when Case was shot. We’re told he was not the officer actually serving the papers.

Case died at the scene around 10:25 a.m

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a shooting downtown killed a city employee.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a shooting downtown killed a city employee.(WRDW)

Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy was one of many officials at the scene and called for Melton to turn himself in to deputies immediately.

“Tell him to give himself up,” Fennoy said. “That he can run, but he can’t hide, and that it’s just a matter of time before he’s apprehended and brought to justice.”

That call for an end to his hiding was also echoed by Melton’s family. Specifically, by his nephew Tyrus Tillman. Tillman spoke to News 12 in hopes his uncle would do the right thing.

“Uncle Smitty, we love you,” Tillman said. “We want you to safely turn yourself in. We don’t want this to be worse than it already is. Obviously, there’s a lot of emotion going on, and just know that this is an alleged crime. We have a court of law, we have a justice system, and we want that system to work. And so, safely please turn yourself in. Don’t do anything that will further complicate things or put yourself in harm’s way. You have a family that loves you and we want you to safely bring this to an end and turn yourself.”

Smitty Melton
Smitty Melton(WRDW)

Fellow Commissioner Dennie Williams says the city will likely review enforcement officer protections where calls to code enforcement happen the most.

“And we’re going to look at maybe different methods of addressing their duties to make it a little safer,” Williams said.

The city of Augusta and Mayor Hardie Davis also released a statement on the shooting, saying city officials were extending their condolences.

“The tragic loss of life due to a senseless act of violence is painful for all of us, and I want the Case family to know we are with them to support them as they grieve the loss of Charles,” Davis said. “We are helping our employees who may need support with EAP and grief counseling services. This remains an active investigation and the Sheriff’s Office, and our District Attorney will pursue justice in this and every act of violence in our city.”

If you have any information about this case, call the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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