Law enforcement officials from across Georgia converged on Americus on Wednesday after the fatal shooting of a city police officer and the serious wounding of a Georgia Southwestern State University policeman. At a news conference later in the day, state and local officials and the college’s interim president updated reporters on circumstances surrounding the killing of Americus police officer Nicholas Ryan Smarr and the serious wounding of campus police officer Jody Smith. Below are lightly edited transcripts of officials’ remarks:
Chief Mark A. Scott, Americus police: “We’d like to recap what’s happened so far today. At approximately 9:40 this morning, officer Nicholas Ryan Smarr, age 25, of the Americus Police Department, was dispatched to a domestic call at an apartment complex on South Lee Street here in Americus. He responded to the call at the same time officer Jody Smith of Georgia Southwestern State University police heard the call go out. [Smith] was in the area when he responded as a backup. The two officers encountered a suspect in the domestic [incident] at the scene. Gunshots were exchanged and the two officers were wounded. Officer Smarr succumbed to his injuries this morning. Officer Smith has been life-flighted to an area trauma center [in Macon] where he is in very critical condition. The suspect is still at large. His information has been released to everyone. His name is Minguell Kennedy Lembrick, age 32, definitely armed and dangerous. We would ask that the community help us by telling us where he is. Anyone who knows of his whereabouts or has seen him, please give us a call. We’ll supply a toll-free number that they can call and give that tip anonymously if they’d like to do so. We’d like to express our thanks to the community for the outpouring of sympathy and support that we have had so far today. It’s been overwhelming and we thank you for the love and for the prayers that have gone up for these two officers and for their families. We just ask that you continue to pray for them and to just keep their families in your prayers.”
Scott, answering questions from reporters about Lembrick, the at-large suspect: “He is known [to us]. There were active warrants on him at the time officers encountered him. At the time they were dispatched to the domestic call, they didn’t know who was involved. They identified him after getting on the scene and then the encounter ensued. … He had an active warrant for kidnapping and other charges related to a previous domestic dispute. … At this time, we don’t know where he is. We’ve had numerous people call in with tips about where he might be. … We’re checking every location where people say he may be hiding. We just ask that people ... don’t try to approach him. Just let us know where he is. … We do not know where he is or what his intent is.”
Mike Tracy, public safety director at Georgia Southwestern State University: “Our campus sits in the middle of our city and we regularly help and assist [city police] officers … and they assist us. … Our hearts and prayers go out.”
Never miss a local story.
Vernon Keenan, GBI director: “We have approximately 30 agents here that are working with at least 20 other local law enforcement agencies who have responded to this area to assist in this investigation and also the manhunt. … The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are offering a $20,000 reward for the arrest of the suspect in this case. We have had great support previously in these type of investigations. … Often that will bring citizens to the forefront who’ll provide us with information. The reward is for his arrest. We’ll take care of the prosecution and everything from that point on. This is a very dangerous individual. We need to have him off the streets. We want him arrested so that he can face the courts. … Officer Smarr’s body will be transported to the GBI medical examiner’s office in Macon [Thursday] morning. He will be escorted by the Georgia State Patrol and other law enforcement officers as an honor guard. He will be autopsied and then returned to the family.”
Charles E. Patterson, interim president of Georgia Southwestern State University: “I’m very encouraged by our response on campus. Within minutes of the call, our campus was on lockdown. … At no time were any students involved or in danger with the incident.”