A Brooklet man faces multiple charges after pulling a gun on a Bulloch County sheriff’s deputy Thursday during a traffic stop, said Bulloch County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jared Akins. No shots were fired, but Akins said the situation easily could have taken a tragic turn.
Six officers were shot in Georgia between Dec. 7 and Dec. 13, and two died from their wounds.
Joshua Jeremiah Neely, 26, of Highway 80 East in Brooklet, was driving on Pretoria-Rushing Road near Johnson’s Run subdivision around 10 p.m. Thursday when Deputy Ryan Garrett Norton stopped him for speeding and reckless driving, according to sheriff’s incident reports.
When Norton approached the car, Neely pulled and pointed a gun at the deputy. Norton drew his own weapon and aimed at Neely, ordering him to drop the gun, which he did, Akins said.
Norton called for backup and held Neely at gunpoint until other deputies arrived to assist. Deputies then found a second gun in the vehicle, he said.
When deputies asked Neely to submit to a breath test to determine his level of intoxication, he refused.
Encountering an armed suspect who pulls a gun is a rare occurrence, happening maybe twice a year, Akins said. But what was once an alarming situation has taken on a far more serious tone in light of attacks against police officers across the nation, he said.
“It is a lot different (than before),” he said. “Nowadays you just don’t know” what the suspect will do.
In most cases, during an encounter with an armed suspect, the suspect doesn’t point the firearm at the deputy, he said. But over the past few years, as assaults against law enforcement officers have increased sharply, deputies and other peace officers have developed a heightened awareness of an already dangerous situation.
“We usually do have a couple of times a year when use of deadly force is warranted,” Akins said.
Nationwide, 64 officers have been shot dead in the line of duty this year, according to news reports.
Two Americus officers were shot and killed Dec. 7 when they responded to a reported domestic dispute. The shooter later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a manhunt.
Two other officers were shot and wounded Monday during a multi-jurisdictional drug task force operation in Byron. A suspect was killed in the exchange of gunfire.
Also on Monday, two officers were shot during a traffic stop in Lavonia, according to reports.
Neely was taken to the Bulloch County Jail, where he awaits a bond hearing. He faces charges of aggravated assault against a peace officer, driving with a suspended or revoked license, reckless driving, speeding, DUI/less safe/refused test, open container, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and reckless conduct, according to jail records.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.