A search is underway for a man accused of killing a retired Gwinnett Sheriff’s deputy during an attempted robbery at an auto parts store in Buford Wednesday night.
On Wednesday night, Gwinnett police only said an employee at the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts located at 2786 Hamilton Mill Road had died from a gunshot wound during a scuffle with the would-be robber.
On Thursday morning, however, police and Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed it was Dacula resident Felix Cosme, who went to work at the store after he retired from the Sheriff’s Office in 2015.
“Our hearts are heavy this morning at the loss of retired Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Felix Cosme, who was shot and killed last night during an attempted robbery at an auto parts store on Hamilton Mill in Buford, where he was employed,” a Facebook post by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office said.
Cosme’s death has left Gwinnett law enforcement, particularly the sheriff’s office, in a state of mourning. A search is still underway for the shooter as well as additional information that can tell investigators who the suspect is.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office highlighted his career with the department and praised his actions during the robbery attempt.
Police were called to the store at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday on a report about a person who had been shot. Officers arrived to find Cosme dead inside the store.
Officials said their belief is it was an attempted robbery. Cosme and one other employee were in the store at the time. The other employee, identified as a female, was helping a customer in the parking lot when she noticed a suspect, described only as a “black male,” sitting in a car in the parking lot.
The man allegedly followed the female employee back into the store and tried to coerce her into opening a cash drawer. Cosme, who was in the back of the store at the time, saw what was happening and tried to pull a weapon on the suspect.
However, the suspect shot Cosme.
“Sergeant Cosme died a hero’s death as he attempted to protect himself and a female co-worker from a violent criminal with no regard for human life,” sheriff’s office officials said.
The suspect was seen fleeing toward Interstate 85 in a vehicle after the incident, according to police. A description of the vehicle was not immediately available as police worked to track down that information.
“It is still unclear if this crime is related to any other events in the area or in the past,” police said. “A specific description of the suspect and his vehicle are still being pursued.”
But, Deputy Shannon Volkadav, a spokeswoman for the Gwinnett Sheriff’s Office, said Cosme’s actions reflected his past as a retired deputy.
Cosme worked in law enforcement for more than 35 years, starting in 1979, although his work as a Gwinnett deputy was more recent.
“Sergeant Cosme was employed by our office beginning in April 2006. He served in Jail Administration until his retirement in November 2015,” sheriff’s office officials said on Facebook.
Prior to joining the sheriff’s office, Cosme worked for the Macon Police Department, the Charleston Police Department and the Lake Lanier Island State Authority, according to Volkadav.
“Many people are drawn to law enforcement profession because they care about people and they want to make a difference in their community,” she said. “Sgt. Cosme did both and that caring, and desire to serve, does not retire when you do and Sgt. Cosme’s actions (Wednesday) night are a good example of that.
“His intent was to protect and serve, even in his retirement.”
Police said investigators from the police department’s gang, robbery and homicide units, as well as the District Attorney’s office responded to the crime scene.
Daily Post news partner FOX 5 news reported video surveillance from the auto parts store, as well as neighboring businesses is being reviewed to help investigators come up with a description of the suspect and the vehicle he fled the scene in.
The sheriff’s office extended its gratitude to police department for its work on the case.
“We extend our thanks to our brothers and sisters with Gwinnett County Police, who are working long hours to locate the suspect(s) responsible for this horrific crime,” sheriff’s office officials said.
Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477 or Gwinnett police detectives at 770-513-5300. They can also visit www.stopcrimeATL.com. Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest and indictment in the case. Tipsters should reference Case No. 20-002382.