A police officer responding to “a suspicious vehicle” call near a middle school in the Atlanta area was gunned down in a cold-blooded murder Saturday.
Fox News reported that Gwinnett County police officer Antwan Toney, along with other officers, had been dispatched to the scene of “a suspicious vehicle” located near the Shiloh Middle School in the small town of Snellville around 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
As Toney and the other officers initially approached the vehicle, a Gwinnett County PD media release said “shots were fired from inside the suspect vehicle. One of those shots struck Ofc. Toney.”
“Other responding officers returned fire and pulled Ofc. Toney to cover,” the release said. “The suspect vehicle fled the scene; it is unknown if anyone in the vehicle was struck by return fire.”
Toney was transported to the Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville where he was later pronounced dead from his gunshot wound.
The press release for the line of duty death is included in the photo below. The next press briefing will be at 7:30pm, Hwy. 78 and Killian Hill Rd. pic.twitter.com/YGs8aGZFHf
— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) October 20, 2018
The GPD media release proceeded to describe how the suspect vehicle was later found after it had crashed nearby and how the occupants — initially believed to be as many as four, later narrowed down to just two — had fled the wrecked vehicle on foot, prompting a search of buildings and woods in the surrounding area that included other officers, SWAT team personnel and K-9 units, among other law enforcement resources.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that the other suspect — 18-year-old Tafarhee Maynard — was found earlier in the day hiding in a shed in the Snellville area about one mile from the scene where Toney was shot.
Maynard was armed with a lawnmower blade and was shot and killed by officers when he refused to obey commands to drop the improvised weapon.
An earlier report from the Journal-Constitution noted that Gwinnett Police Chief Butch Ayers had described Toney as “very jovial, very dedicated to his job and to serving his community.” The 30-year-old officer was just days away from celebrating his three-year anniversary with the Gwinnett PD.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook on Saturday, “Please keep the family of Gwinnett County Police Officer A. Toney in your thoughts and prayers as they mourn his loss.“
Similarly, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said via Twitter, “Our hearts are with the family & friends of the Gwinnett Police Officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty today. We thank you for your service and pray for the Gwinnett County Police Department. We are mourning this loss with you.”
The shooting of Toney came just days after three separate police-involved shootings in Georgia on Thursday. One officer had been shot but survived because of his armored vest, and two of the three suspects in those separate incidents had been shot and killed by officers.
Toney’s death makes him the fourth Georgia officer to be shot and killed this year. A total of six Georgia officers were shot and killed in 2017.
Toney is also the 45th officer to be shot and killed nationwide this year, a startling number that already matches the total number of officers shot and killed across America in all of 2017.
As for Gwinnett County, Toney is the first officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1993, when an officer was run over by a drunk driver. Prior to that, the last time Gwinnett officers were killed in the line of duty was 1964, when three officers responding to a “suspicious activity” call were ambushed, handcuffed together and murdered with their own weapons.
Unfortunately, the despicable “war on cops” that was launched with a fervency during the previous presidential administration continues to be waged against officers who are merely doing their jobs to keep communities across the nation safe from criminals, leaving innocent family and friends to mourn the tragic loss of their loved ones in senseless acts of violence.
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