Support pours in for Richmond County deputy who was shot on duty

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 12:51 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2022 at 6:29 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Community members continue to show support for a deputy who was shot in the face while responding to a report of a disturbance.

Michael Cole and another deputy were sent early Thursday to a home in the 2200 block of Bungalow Road. They were met by a suspect who started shooting, according to authorities.

“He loves his job and serving his community,” said his sister Kyla Cole. “He’s talked about being a cop since we were kids.”

She said he was in the intensive-care unit but stable and will need reconstructive surgery, followed by a long road to recovery.

“We are just going to take it day by day and thankful for all the support that we have received from RCSO,” she said.

She described her brother, age 25 and with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for five years, a fearless, strong, heroic, and knowledgeable officer who always puts others’ safety and best interest first.

We also spoke to a local non-profit that works to advocate and provide support for law enforcement about why this support is important.

“My brother, Sergeant Mode, has been with North Augusta Public Safety for, my goodness, over 10 years now, and we just saw firsthand how very underappreciated law enforcement is,” said Katie Mode, founder of Feeding the Fearless.

She says having a sibling in law enforcement is very scary because it’s a dangerous job.

“It is very very worrisome. You’re constantly thinking about it,” she said. “They know how scary and dangerous it is, and they still go out there because they want to protect and serve and defend their cities.”

Protecting despite the risks is what Cole wanted to do too. This desire to serve is why Mode says supporting officers like Cole is so important.

“They don’t do it for the thank yous,” she said. “They do it to protect and serve because they want to help people. These are our heroes, and we have to make sure they feel appreciated.”

She says as officers encounter dangerous situations daily, she encourages others to do the same.

“There’s no better time than the present to get out and give back to law enforcement. The smallest little gesture does really go a long way,” said Mode.

Mode says it’s also important for her to support the families of law enforcement officers. She says she does have more plans to get in contact with Cole’s family to help them as he recovers.

Meanwhile, another local sheriff’s department is sending its support and prayers to the injured deputy.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office says: “Sheriff Alfonzo Williams and the men and women of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office send our thoughts and prayers to the Richmond County deputy shot in the line of duty. … We pray for his full recovery.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Cole and another deputy arrived at the home on Bungalow Road at 1:41 a.m. Thursday and learned Vernon Cratic Jr., 34, of Augusta, was inside with a gun.

The deputies entered the home to speak with Cratic, but he began firing, GBI reported.

Cole was shot but no other officers were injured. The deputies returned fire but did not hit Cratic.

Additional units responded and secured the home until the Richmond County SWAT team arrived. Deputies began negotiations with Cratic to get him to surrender peacefully.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 2200 block of Bungalow Road in reference...
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 2200 block of Bungalow Road in reference to a disturbance call at 1:41 a.m. Thursday.(WRDW)

While negotiations were taking place, Cratic continued to shoot at law enforcement officers on the scene, according to GBI.

Around 4 a.m., Cratic surrendered.

He was taken to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta and charged with five counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of burglary in the second degree, according to jail records.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.

Vernon Cratic Jr.
Vernon Cratic Jr.(Contributed)

Once the GBI finishes its investigation, the case file will be given to the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution.

This is the 101st officer-involved shooting the GBI has been asked to investigate in 2022, including one in Richmond County on May 26.

Bungalow Road is one of the places where deputies set up a checkpoint a few weeks ago in an effort to get guns and drugs off the streets.

The checkpoint was part of Operation GRACE, launched to target hotspots amid an outbreak of deadly crime across the CSRA that’s claimed more than 50 lives so far.