Augusta, GA - Richmond County Sheriff's Corporal Gregory Cooke was murdered during an argument, according to The Augusta Chronicle. He was off-duty at the time.
The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon, June 15, in the 2400 block of Lennox Road off Windsor Spring Road. Patrick Clayton, Chief Deputy for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, said that the shooting happened during a argument between Corporal Cooke and a couple and their two children.
He is not related to the suspects but is 'acquainted' with them. Preliminary investigation shows that Officer Cooke was not acting as a law enforcement officer at the time.
After the shooting occurred, the suspects fled but were located later that same day after a search. At least five people have been arrested in connection with Corporal Cooke's death, including Naheem Rashad Caldwell, age 17; Donnelle Osborne, age 19; Stevie Dustin Caldwell, age 46; Nikeyla Reeves, age 17; Neqwaun O’Neal Roberson, age 18; and Demerius Taquon Hunter, age 17.
Charges include tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Stevie Caldwell), hindering the apprehension of a criminal (Hunter, Roberson, and Reeves); malice murder (Naheem Caldwell); and murder (Osborne).
A neighbor who lives near Corporal Cooke's home said that she saw Corporal Cooke with wounds either to his right chest or his shoulder. She said that it was hard to tell "because there were so many cops around him". Police said that he had been shot at least once.
Corporal Cooke, age 43, started his career as a jailer at the Augusta State Medical Prison, and had worked his way up to a road deputy on patrol. Sergeant 1st Class Toneka Sanders, a family friend, said "he was an “awesome father and family man” and “someone you could depend on."
He retired from the military in 2012 after 20 years of service, including a deployment to Iraq. He had always wanted to be in law enforcement.
Corporal Cooke was awarded many medals including four Army Commendation medals, four Army Achievement medals, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, a Valorous Unit Award, two National Defense Service medals, and a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. He is a three-year veteran of the agency, and was family-oriented.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the investigation.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Corporal Gregory Cooke, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Corporal Gregory Cooke, your life mattered.