0

1 Athens police officer gunned down, another wounded

The Associated Press/David Tulis. The shattered window of an Athens-Clarke police cruiser can be seen as the investigation continues at Sycamore Drive near West Broad Street while police also search for a gunman who shot and killed one police officer and wounded another at the entrance of Cascades on the River apartments in Athens on Tuesday.

The Associated Press/David Tulis. The shattered window of an Athens-Clarke police cruiser can be seen as the investigation continues at Sycamore Drive near West Broad Street while police also search for a gunman who shot and killed one police officer and wounded another at the entrance of Cascades on the River apartments in Athens on Tuesday.

ATHENS -- One police officer was shot and killed and another badly wounded Tuesday as they were searching for a carjacking suspect in Athens, leading to a manhunt for the shooter, authorities said.

Senior Police Officer Tony Howard stopped a Chevrolet Suburban just before 1 p.m. in Athens when a passenger got out of the SUV and shot and wounded Howard, police said.

The driver of the Suburban was taken into custody, but the passenger ran from the vehicle and encountered another senior officer, Elmer "Buddy" Christian, according to authorities. He then shot and killed Christian in his patrol car, police said in a statement.

Howard underwent surgery at a hospital later, police Capt. Clarence Holeman told The Associated Press. Police said the officer was expected to recover from his gunshot wounds but they did not provide details about his condition.

The shootings came on the same day that police chiefs from around the country said they supported longer prison terms for gun-carrying felons as a way to combat a recent rise in line-of-duty deaths. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, also saying he was worried about the rise, directed U.S. attorneys nationwide to identify repeat offenders for possible prosecution under federal law that would make them eligible for stiffer sentences.

A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. Before the Georgia shootings, so far this year, 49 lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.

A police statement said the Georgia shootings erupted near an apartment complex on the west side of Athens as officers were investigating reports of a kidnapping and carjacking.

Afterward, police fanned out along a major highway and conducted a house-by-house search for the 33-year-old armed suspect, who authorities said was still at large Tuesday evening. They said they also found a silver car believed connected to the case.

University of Georgia police chief Jimmy Williamson told local media outlets that students were sent an email warning to stay out of the area where the shooting occurred, which was about three miles from campus.

Several elementary schools and a pre-kindergarten program in the area were locked down as a precaution during the police search and an area school district canceled evening events at area schools because the suspect remained at large.

The slain officer leaves a wife, a son and a daughter.