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Officer shot near West Point; suspect arrested
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Officer shot near West Point; suspect arrested

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By Alton Mitchell

Monday held a unique title it was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day across the nation. The day that should have been spent showing support and gratitude to those in blue was disrupted with violence that started early in the day in Florida and ended just across the state line from Chambers County with an officer injured by gunfire.

Deputy Michael Hockett of the Troup County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to a welfare check on a 28-year-old man along Jackson Road in Troup County. That home is located just to east of the city of West Point.

Deputy Hockett arrived to the home just before noon on Monday. Deputy Hockett was dispatched to the home after family members became concerned about the welfare and mental health state of the homes occupant. When Deputy Hockett arrived he exited his patrol vehicle and was making an advancement to the home when he heard what is described as a loud bang.

Deputy Hockett realized the suspect was firing a firearm at him. The Deputy identified himself as law enforcement, but the suspect continued to fire at the deputy. Deputy Hockett was struck by one of the shots from the suspect’s weapon. That weapon was described as a buckshot style shotgun. The rounds from that weapon struck the deputy in face, hand, and torso. Before being injured by the suspects firearm, deputy Hockett did return fire on the suspect striking the suspect.

Deputy Hockett called for backup and members from the surrounding law enforcement community arrived on the scene to include a Troup County S.W.A.T. team. Deputy Hockett was transported to West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange for treatment. He was released shortly after the shooting and is expected to survive his injuries.

While Deputy Hockett was receiving treatment for his injuries his coworkers were engaged in an hour’s long standoff with the suspect. The suspect gave himself up to law enforcement shortly before 7:00 p.m. Eastern time Monday evening. The suspect was identified as Matthew Edmonson, 28-years-old. The shots from Deputy Hockett’s weapon struck the suspect once in the shoulder. Shortly after his surrender to law enforcement Edmonson was transported to Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, Ga for treatment of his gunshot wound.

The shooting of Deputy Hockett becomes the latest in a string of shootings on law enforcement officials across West Georgia the past several months. The incidents began in May when an officer with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department was shot near the eye during a traffic stop on Interstate 185. In October a Columbus Police officer was shot by a burglary suspect that was hiding in a home. In December two officers in Americus, Ga were fatally shot during a domestic call near Georgia Southwestern University. Just days after the fatal shooting of those officers’ two officers were shot in Crawford County, Ga while executing a search warrant. Those officers worked with a multi-agency drug task force that lost two officers to gunfire on November 8th while executing a similar warrant in neighboring Peach County.

In addition to the shooting of Deputy Hockett on Monday Master Sergeant Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department was fatally shot near a Walmart store in the Florida city. Deputy Clayton was approaching a man suspected of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December. While conducting a search for the suspected cop killer a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was killed in a motorcycle crash. That deputy was identified as Deputy First Class Norman Lewis.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page in 2017 there have been a total of three officers killed in the line of duty. That figure includes the two Florida officers who lost their lives on Monday. In 2016 there were 140 officers killed in the line of duty. That figure was slightly up from 130 in 2015. Although only a slight uptick in total deaths the amount of officers killed by gunfire nearly doubled as in 2015 39 officers were killed in the line of duty by gunfire. In 2016 that number rose to 63. In 2016 only one officer in Alabama was killed in the line of duty. That was correctional officer Kenneth Bettis who was fatally stabbed at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore on September 16, 2016.

There are no word on what charges Edmonson will face for injuring the deputy. Deputy Hockett has been with the Troup County Sheriff’s Department for about two years. His career began as Hockett was working a correctional officer in the jail.