Robbery suspect shot dead after opening fire on police, another suspect captured

The man whom Macon police killed in a Monday morning shootout was 27-year-old Benjamin Hill of 157 Alview Drive, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

Hill was a fleeing suspect in an armed robbery at the Checkers Drive Thru Restaurant on Spring Street. The robbery ended with him lying in a pool of blood on Capitol Avenue in south Macon and another suspect, 26-year-old Eric Laren Daniels, in police custody after wrecking the alleged getaway car.

A witness to the 9:30 a.m. holdup followed the gold sedan as it left the restaurant on the busy corner of Riverside Drive next to the Greyhound bus station. The witness called 911 with the tag number, which led to a police chase, said Sgt. Melanie Hofmann, public information officer for the Macon Police Department.

Officers began chasing the car near Hardeman Avenue and Pursley Street and followed the vehicle. Hill got out of the car near the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Toombs Street, Hofmann said, and fled into a vacant apartment. When officers came to check the building, Hill started shooting at police, Hofmann said.

He then escaped out of a broken front window and continued to shoot at police, who returned fire and fatally wounded him, Hofmann said.

The officers who continued to pursue the car arrested Daniels after he wrecked the vehicle at the corner of Mead and Guy Paine roads, she said. Daniels was charged with armed robbery and violating probation.

Sgt. Hofmann said investigators are looking into whether the suspects were involved with other recent armed robberies in the area, but said she could not give further details.

About two dozen neighbors gathered along the yellow crime scene tape that blocked Capitol Avenue at the intersection with Chatham Street. Several of them reported hearing the gunshots but did not want to be interviewed by the media.

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones pronounced Hill dead at the scene of the shooting.

“It’s bad for anybody to get shot,” Jones said. “It’s definitely bad for somebody to get shot after shooting at a law enforcement officer, and it’s certainly bad for this incident to happen on Martin Luther King Day.”

Jones said officials will perform an autopsy this morning to determine how many bullets hit Hill, who appeared to have suffered a head wound. There was too much blood to be sure how many times he was shot without the thorough postmortem investigation, Jones added.

While it was not immediately clear how many officers fired shots or how many times the suspect shot, those officers involved in the fatal shooting will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

Monday afternoon, Hill’s family members gathered at the home where he lived near Macon State College.

But his aunt, Pat Colbert, a receptionist in Mayor Robert Reichert’s office, said they were not in a state of mind to talk about what had happened.

Staff writer Matt Barnwell contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.