Deputies mourn officer killed on duty

AUGUSTA -- Slain Richmond County sheriff's deputy James D. Paugh was remembered at his funeral service as a man who cooked turkeys for firefighters during the holidays and served meals to fellow deputies during Masters Week.

Paugh, 47, a motorcycle officer, was killed early Sunday when he went to investigate a suspicious vehicle on Augusta's Bobby Jones Expressway. Police say he was shot to death by Tennessee Army National Guard soldier Christopher Hodges, who had been firing an assault rifle at vehicles on the highway. After shooting Paugh, Hodges killed himself.

At the service Thursday, sheriff's department chaplain Ken Gross described Paugh as willing to give up his time to serve others in public safety and the community, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

Gross said Paugh was not a polished character. "But here in Georgia we love junkyard dogs," he said.

Because he loved his job in the traffic division, "J.D. hasn't worked for the past 17 years," Gross said.

The sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Augusta was filled with deputies from Richmond and Columbia counties, but a wide array of uniforms also represented jurisdictions across Georgia and South Carolina.

Paugh was headed home from a special detail early Sunday when he was killed.

"The making of a hero is day after day doing what is right," the Rev. Rodger Murchinson said. "Even when you are tired. Even when you are going home late at night and the day has been long but your duty tells you someone might need me."

Murchinson concluded that Paugh was a hero because he was an ordinary man who took extraordinary actions.

I think J.D. would say, "Be your own hero," Murchinson said.

The deputy's name will soon be added to a stone memorial for law enforcement officers on Riverwalk Augusta, officials said.