Man sentenced to 25 years in prison for firing on Warner Robins police officers

bpurser@macon.comJuly 11, 2014 

James Curles

WARNER ROBINS -- A 29-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for firing on Warner Robins police officers during a standoff last summer.

James “Danny” Curles Jr., of Warner Robins, pleaded guilty Friday in Houston County Superior Court to one count of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, according to a district attorney’s news release. Judge Edward D. Lukemire also sentenced Curles to 45 years of probation and ordered him to pay $11,745 in restitution.

As a part of the plea agreement, another charge of attempted murder, two counts of interference with government property for damaging police vehicles and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime were dismissed.

On June 27, Warner Robins police responded to Curles’ home in the 100 block of Galaxy Avenue about 5:30 p.m. to assist medical personnel with a patient, whom police later identified as Curles. His then-wife had called the ambulance, police said.

While police were on their way, medical personnel heard what were believed to be shots fired from within the home, police said. Once officers arrived, Curles began shooting at them, but officers did not shoot back.

From his home, Curles fired more than 50 rounds from an SKS assault rifle, according to the release. Police Lt. Jeff McCommon, the first officer fired upon, took cover behind his patrol car, which was struck at least eight times. Police Sgt. Wayne Fisher and detective Justin Clark were also fired upon as they arrived to back up McCommon.

In all, 10 rounds struck two marked police vehicles, with Curles having fired his weapon for about an hour, the release stated.

A SWAT negotiator was able to talk Curles into coming out of his home unarmed about 7:30 p.m., police said. The neighborhood was locked down for about two hours.

Curles was initially taken to Houston Medical Center for evaluation after the standoff. He was booked into the jail late in the afternoon the following day.

“It is an absolute miracle that not a single person was shot that day,” District Attorney George Hartwig said in the news release.

“This situation had the potential to lead to multiple people getting shot,” he said. “The Warner Robins police officers did an outstanding job investigating (and) containing this situation and doing everything possible to protect neighborhood residents.”

Macon attorney Keith Fitzgerald said although there were mitigating circumstances behind Curles’ actions, he was facing a sentence of more than 140 years in prison had he gone to trial.

Those mitigating circumstances were that Curles may have had an epileptic seizure after he had received news his wife wanted a divorce. She found him passed out and foaming at the mouth the day of the incident. Curles woke up in a rage, which Fitzgerald said is not uncommon after a seizure. He does not remember anything at all about the incident, Fitzgerald said.

“He understood that going to trial would subject him to an enormous amount of exposure to jail time,” Fitzgerald said. “The plea in this was in his best interest.”

With the plea, Curles is now a convicted felon and is prohibited from owning or possessing any firearms, the release stated.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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