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Man, 61, dies in officer-involved shooting

Confrontation started as code compliance operation on Rackley Street

Man, 61, dies in officer-involved shooting

Man, 61, dies in officer-involved shooting

Law enforcement officers from various...

A 61-year-old man died Monday when a code compliance operation turned into a shooting involving police, authorities and witnesses said.

According to the Statesboro Police Department, in information provided during an 11:30 a.m. press conference, George Pryor was shot and killed at his Rackley Street home during an officer-involved shooting that happened earlier Monday.

Said police spokesman Advanced Patrol Officer Justin Samples: "At approximately 9:09 a.m., we had an officer go to a residence on Rackley Street to assist with a code enforcement issue. At about 9:30 a.m., we received a report that shots were fired at that residence. The suspect in the shooting is deceased."

Samples identified the 315 Rackley St. address as Pryor's home and added: "The Statesboro Police Department would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family of George Pryor. This was an unfortunate incident, and we extend our condolences to them."

Police offered few other details, saying only that the incident is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"No officers were injured during the shooting," Samples said, but "we did have one officer receive a minor injury, not related to the gunfire."

The Statesboro Police Department, GBI, Bulloch County Sheriff's Office, and Georgia State Patrol responded to the scene.

On Rackley Street, hours after events unfolded, members of the community lingered near the Pryor home. The white, wood building with a tin awning over a screened porch, along with its yard, were cordoned off by police tape, as GBI officers conducted their investigation.

A number of markers identifying pieces of evidence, including shell casings, were visible on the street in front of Pryor's home, as were a Statesboro police vehicle and code compliance vehicle.

Those remaining near the scene described tense moments, and a shootout sparked by Pryor.

"(Pryor) was on the porch. He went inside, came back out and started shooting. I heard two shots from him. "(Police) took off and began shooting back," said Rose Roberts, a resident of nearby Institute Street. Roberts said she ducked for cover under a house when shots rang out. "After about the third shot, he went down. It was unreal. All of a sudden, everything went wrong."

Though police were guarded with details surrounding the case, eyewitnesses claim the shootout was prompted by a code enforcement operation involving an old, rusted and inoperable van owned by Pryor.

Witnesses say a Statesboro Code Compliance officer reported to Pryor's home to seize the van, which has sat idle in the yard for several years.

"He has had the van forever. They have been asking for years for him to move it. He signed some papers, went back into the house, and then all of a sudden everything happened," Roberts said. "The van had a lot of sentimental value for him. He wanted to get it fixed."
A tow truck, with the van loaded, was still on the scene hours after the shooting.

The city's Code Compliance department, under the umbrella of Planning and Development, is responsible for "ensuring that the city's physical environment is maintained through the enforcement of codes related to building and property maintenance, sanitation, zoning, etc.," according to the city of Statesboro website. "Code compliance staff is responsible for investigating complaints which may often be categorized as ‘nuisances' including: vacant and dilapidated buildings, overgrown vegetation, front yard parking, abandoned vehicles, litter, etc. The activities of code compliance staff are intended to improve the community's standard of living and enhance property values throughout the city."

Samples said he could neither confirm nor deny the witness accounts, or release the names and job statuses of officers involved in the shooting.

He did confirm that Code Compliance submitted a request for a police escort Monday morning, when heading to the scene.

In reference to how police are generally trained to handle a situation in which a suspect is belligerent and brandishing a weapon, Samples said nothing is in black and white.

"It really depends on the situation. We have had calls where someone has a gun or knife and opening fire is not required, and been on some where it is," he said. "Every situation, and its variables, is different."

In instances where a gun is involved, police can be authorized to use deadly force, he said.

Glennera Martin, who lives on nearby West Jones Street, said she was shocked to hear what happened.

"This is basically a quiet neighborhood," she said. "I spoke with a gentleman earlier who jogged by (Pryor's home) every morning and talked with him. He said he was a very nice old man."

Roberts described Pryor as a quiet, loving and caring person.

"He never bothered anyone. It was really unusual for him to be like this, for this to happen. He was a good man. He would sit on his porch, with his music and fan, peacefully. He would speak to anyone that came by, and if you needed anything, he had no problem giving it to you if he had it," she said. "It's senseless. Some of the family was here, and I'm sorry for them. It has been a very long, sad day for a lot of people. I'll pray for the family and hope they can get through it all."

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.




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