Good Samaritan shares how he helped detain shootout suspect

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re learning more about the North Augusta public safety officer who was wounded during a shootout on Georgia Avenue and the good Samaritan who jumped in to help.

Georgia Avenue in downtown North Augusta is back to normal after Thursday’s incident. We spoke to the family of Lt. Aaron Fittery, and they say the veteran law enforcement officer is feeling good despite being shot in the leg.

And looking at the patrol car he was driving, you’ll understand just lucky the officer is.

Fittery’s patrol car paints a grim picture of how intense and dangerous Thursday’s scene really was. The windshield is riddled with bullet holes.

“And you don’t go to work thinking you’re going to get shot,” said Freddie Sanders, former chief of police in Richmond County.

Sanders should know. He has a long history in law enforcement.

“People don’t understand what its like and they do their job now that don’t mean that oh like me go out an get shot but that part of the job and he did it to the highest degree,” said Sanders.

Fittery and others contributed to the capture of Thomas Airington, a man now facing several charges, including attempted murder.

A good Samaritan played a role, too. He was at Carpenter’s Auto Shop nearby when the shooting started.

“I was between the vehicles watching to see where the suspect was aiming at and it was directly toward law enforcement vehicles,” said the man who helped officers detain the suspect. “That’s when I took off ran out there to give the officers assistance.”

He was focused on helping get the suspect into handcuffs so the other officers could tend to their wounded colleague.

From left: Thomas Michael Airington and Lt. Aaron Fittery
From left: Thomas Michael Airington and Lt. Aaron Fittery(WRDW)

“I don’t like being the center of attention or whatever. I just did what needed to be done and help out when needed,” he said.

And in the end, Sanders says North Augusta officers did everything by the book along with keeping citizens safe.

“They showed restraint and returned fire, they stayed down as much as they could out of the way so that shows they did everything right,” said Sanders.

It was a close call all the way around with a police chase ending in gunfire in a very busy part of town.

How it all unfolded

Officers were called about a suspicious car sometime around 4:30 p.m. That’s when North Augusta Public Safety Officers spotted the suspect. When they tried to stop him he drove away causing an accident at Georgia Avenue and Martintown Road.

The suspect continued down Georgia Avenue, where he stopped in the middle of downtown and opened fire on officers, authorities said. That’s when Fittery was shot in the leg. He’s at home recovering.

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