By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Brooklet man surrenders after hostage standoff
BCSO S.E.R.T. team facilitates peaceful ending
Joshua Hellberg
Joshua Hellberg

Following a standoff that lasted several hours, a Brooklet man finally surrendered after fleeing into a wooded area behind his home.

According to a release from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called Tuesday, Feb. 27 to the Winnie Brook Subdivision in Brooklet for a hostage situation. A suspect identified as Joshua Hellberg was holding a woman at gunpoint and threatening to kill her and also himself.

Negotiators from the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.) made contact with Hellberg by telephone and children in the residence were safely evacuated, according to the release. They continued to speak with Hellberg as he held the woman at gunpoint.

A short time later, the woman was able to escape and took two weapons from the home with her, which she turned over to law enforcement. Meanwhile, Hellberg remained barricaded in the house with a rifle and several other reported firearms.

While deputies were warning neighbors in the area to shelter in place, Hellberg then fled out the back of the home armed with a rifle. S.E.R.T. team members pursued him as he ran into a wooded area. Helberg was given commands to surrender and he eventually complied and walked out, leaving the rifle behind in the woods, according to the release.

Drone operators were able to mark the location of the rifle using a F.L.I.R.  (Forward Looking Infrared) camera, enabling the firearm to be recovered quickly. The specialized camera picks up heat signatures, which allows for searches in dense woods, open fields and even at night.

“I would like to thank all the members of the Sheriff’s Office who responded to this incident,” Sheriff Noel Brown said in the release. “Also, I would also like to thank the Georgia State Patrol, who provided several troopers to assist, as well as Bulloch County E.M.S., who stood by until the situation was resolved.

“I commend the drone operators from the Sheriff’s U.A.V. unit who responded to this incident. They were able to relay suspect location and activities to the S.E.R.T. team, and were instrumental in locating the weapon that was abandoned by Hellberg in the woods.”

Along with two charges of aggravated assault, the 31-year-old Hellberg faces charges of false imprisonment, terroristic threats and acts, possession of a firearm during commission of certain felonies and felony obstruction of law enforcement officers.

He remains in the Bulloch County Jail.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter