Warner Robins police shot and killed a gunman early this morning outside the Waffle House at 1287 South Houston Lake Road.
Reginald Bernard Smith, 27, of Fort Valley, died on the scene after police responded to a large fight at the restaurant at about 2:18 a.m. Smith had a gun and was described by police as an “active shooter.”
An autopsy was expected today.
At a news conference this afternoon, Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans said the shooting escalated from a fight inside the restaurant during which a gun was pulled. There were visible signs inside the restaurant that a fight had taken place before the altercation moved outside, he said.
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Two responding city police officers heard shots fired and went around the back of the restaurant and confronted the gunman, who was then shot, Evans said.
Evans said he could not say whether a verbal command was given by police to the gunman before he was shot. The chief said it was a matter of seconds between when the officers heard at least two shots fired by the gunman and when police fired.
Police do not know how many people were involved in the altercation with Smith, and the person or people involved may have fled before police arrived, Evans said.
Evans declined to release the names of the officers involved. One is a one-year member of the force, and the other has been with the department for three years, Evans said.
The department has launched an internal investigation, which is standard policy in a lethal-force incident, Warner Robins police Maj. John Wagner said in an interview outside of the news conference.
The officers are on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the internal investigation, Evans said. A separate criminal investigation is also being conducted in relation to the general incident itself, he said.
The two police officers were the only officers on scene when the shooting occurred, Evans said.
Because of the nature of the incident, Wagner said, officers responded from the sheriff’s offices in Houston and Peach counties and the cities of Centerville, Perry and Fort Valley.
In an interview outside of the news conference, Warner Robins police Lt. Chris Rooks estimated it would take at least two days to interview all the people who were on scene when police arrived.
The restaurant was closed today.
Staff Writer Liz Fabian contributed to this report.
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