Cop, Gunman Slain After Traffic Stop
SWAT Team Called to Post Office
POSTED: 4:54 p.m. EDT August 11, 2005
UPDATED: 6:58 a.m. EDT August 12, 2005
Story by wsbtv.com
PINE LAKE -- A Pine Lake policeman was shot and killed Thursday afternoon outside a city post office after he was briefly held hostage by the gunman, who then turned the gun on himself while eluding officers, law enforcement authorities said.
Pine Lake Officer Francis Ortega, who worked on the force part time, was pronounced dead after he was rushed for medical treatment to DeKalb Medical Center.
The gunman, whose identity was pending, apparently turned the gun on himself after running inside the post office to elude officers.
The incident stunned onlookers and prompted an enormous response from the DeKalb police force, who summoned the SWAT team and other officers to the scene.
The incident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. at Rockbridge Road and Spring Drive outside the Pine Lake post office.
Law enforcement sources said the incident apparently began when the officer pulled the suspect's blue Chevrolet Suburban over during a traffic stop. The incident escalated and the suspect pulled out a gun. It was not immediately clear whose gun was used during the shooting.
Susan Boozer told Channel 2 Action News that she had just pulled into the post office to check her mail as the incident was unfolding.
Boozer, 53, said she saw blue lights and "thought it was just somebody getting stopped for a speeding ticket."
Then, she said she saw two Pine Lake police officers near a parked blue SUV, one with his gun drawn. Then, she saw the man with his arm around the chest of one of the officers and shouting at the other "'Go on and shoot. Go on and shoot."'
She said the man was wearing a red sweatshirt and was holding the officer hostage at gunpoint while holding other officers at bay. She said the suspect fired first and the other officers returned fire.
After that, the suspect shot the officer, she said.
"He appeared very lifeless," Boozer said, adding that the suspect then fled into the post office. "I was scared to death."
The DeKalb SWAT team was called to assist Pine Lake police, who shut down nearby streets while they responded to the call.
The gunman was alone in the building as all four postal employees had managed to escape through the back at the time of the shooting, said Paul Krenn, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The post office was open at the time of the incident at around 5 p.m. Krenn didn't know if there were any customers inside at the time.
Ortega's father said the slain officer worked three jobs, including a full-time job as an officer at Georgia Regional Hospital and a part-time job at a nightclub. The officer's father said the cop was trying to make ends meet for his 6-year-old son.
As of early Friday, funeral arrangements were pending.
The gunman's body has been transferred to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which was trying Friday to identify him.
We did this yesterday when it actually happened http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=378717