A man wanted for murder in Cordele opened fire on officers trying to arrest him at a Perry motel early Sunday, police say, but no one was injured.
J.T. Ricketson, special agent in charge of the GBI office in Perry, identified the suspect as James L. Smith, 39, of Cordele. Smith was wanted in a fatal shooting of a woman in Cordele on Saturday morning. Another woman was critically injured. That shooting was handled by the Albany GBI office, which covers Crisp County.
In the course of the investigation into Saturday's shooting Smith was identified as the suspect and it was learned that he was staying at the Scottish Inns and Suites at 405 General Courtney Hodges Boulevard in Perry. After getting a search warrant the Houston County Sheriff's Office, the Crisp County Sheriff's Office and the GBI teamed up to enter Smith's room on the second floor.
At about 4:50 a.m. officers attempted to enter the room and Smith opened fire, Ricketson said. At least two bullets struck a ballistic shield the officers were using. The officers backed off, and at least two officers returned fire. After a standoff of 8-10 minutes, tear gas was tossed into the room and Smith gave up.
"It was a long 8 to 10 minutes," Ricketson said, as he stood in front of the hotel Sunday, while agents continued to collect evidence.
Smith is charged with murder and aggravated assault in the Cordele shooting, and will face multiple charges of aggravated assault on a police officer in the Perry shooting, Ricketson said. A Cordele Police Department release identified Shawna Ware, 31, as the person killed Saturday, while Sheena Jones, 33, was critically injured.
Although no one was injured in the Perry shooting, the Perry GBI office was called in to investigate because officers were involved. It was the second officer-involved shooting in Houston County in a little more than a week. On April 27 a Centerville police officer was shot while answering a call to a domestic dispute, but he is expected to recover.
Ricketson said it was fortunate no one was injured in the Perry shooting. He said Smith was firing indiscriminately and bullets hit the parking lot where some officers were stationed as the shooting was going on.
"He had at least two handguns that we found inside the room as well as a lot of ammunition," Ricketson.
Marcus Ragin, who has lived in the motel for 10 years, said he has never seen anything there like what he saw early Sunday. His room is just a few doors down from the room where Smith was staying.
He heard the shooting and stayed his room until it stopped. Then he looked outside and saw the parking lot swarmed with law enforcement.
"It was a very scary situation," he said. "I'm just glad didn't nobody get hurt."