Dash cam shows Dontrell Carter's encounter with Sumter County, S.C., law officers
Law enforcement officers across the nation are mourning the death of a U.S. marshal based in Macon who was killed in the line of duty.
Just before 9 a.m. Friday, Pat Carothers, a marshal with 26 years of service, was gunned down in Long County.
Carothers, 53, deputy commander of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, was fatally wounded while serving a warrant near the back of the Spring Creek Mobile Home Park on Tibet Road in Ludowici.
Authorities in Sumter County, South Carolina, had been looking for 25-year-old Dontrell Montese Carter for exactly three months on Friday.
A $7,500 cash reward was being offered for information leading to Carter’s arrest, according to a wanted poster published by the Sumter Police Department last month.
Carter was charged with attempted murder of multiple police officers, domestic violence and unlawfully discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling. On Sept. 18, Carter allegedly fired shots into a family member’s home and lead authorities on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash.
Ken Bell, public information officer for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said Carter fired shots at a police officer and two sheriff’s deputies.
“When he crashed, as soon as he exited the vehicle, he had an AK-47. It was just pow, pow, pow, pow,” said Ken Bell, “He disappeared. They did return fire, but he had the woods to protect him, so he was able to get away. ... We’ve been searching for him ever since.”
Authorities have said Carter was armed when U.S. marshals found him Friday in a single-wide trailer near the 11800 block of Tibet Drive.
“Carothers’ team was making entry when he sustained two fatal rounds,” according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Office in Washington. “The team returned gunfire, hitting Carter multiple times.”
Carter was fatally wounded. It is unclear if Carothers fired a shot.
Carothers is survived by his wife and five children.
“It’s terrible,” said John Edgar, of the task force that Carothers led. “He was just a great family man, a great employee, a great mentor and a great leader.”
Edgar, who was on vacation Friday, traveled to the Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville where Carothers was taken by ambulance with a law enforcement escort.
Carothers was wearing his protective vest when he was hit twice by shots from a rifle, once at the top of his vest, according to law enforcement sources.
One of the bullets hit his heart.
Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick said protective gear has its limitations.
“Those vests are not going to stop a rifle round,” said Bittick, who lost officer Michael Norris in a shooting two years ago.
Bittick shared condolences on Facebook after hearing the news.
Bittick lamented the death of another law enforcement officer as emotions are still raw in Middle Georgia.
Carothers and others remembered the fallen officers at the Macon Regional Crimestoppers luncheon on Nov. 7, just hours after the Peach County deputies were fatally wounded while confronting a suspect in a dispute with neighbors in Byron.
As deputy commander of the band of officers who pursue dangerous criminals, Carothers worked closely with the community crime-fighting partnership, said Crimestoppers executive director Warren Selby Jr.
“Just another tragedy. It just doesn’t seem to end,” Selby said Friday afternoon. “We kind of thought we were back on our feet... then something else hits us.”
Crimestoppers relied on Carothers and the task force when they received tips about violent offenders.
“Pat was a true professional in the law enforcement field,” Selby said. “Just another tragedy we have to deal with. ... It’s a sad day for local law enforcement.”
Multiple agencies responded to the call, including Long County deputies, the GBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.
A neighbor living at the mobile home park said he was still in bed when he heard the gunshots, freelance reporter Lewis Levine told The Telegraph.
“I talked to people who were there and they didn’t see anything,” Levine said.
Some people who identified themselves as Carter’s relatives were visibly upset at the scene, he said.
The federal agents are taking the lead in the investigation, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.
“We just lost one of our own,” Levine was told as he was ordered to back away from the crime scene.
U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director David Harlow issued a statement on Carothers’ death.
“Our deputies and law enforcement partners face dangers every day in the pursuit of justice nationwide,” Harlow stated. “The fugitive who killed Deputy Commander Carothers was extremely dangerous, wanted for trying to kill law enforcement officers and deliberately evading authorities. Pat is a hero and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and five children.”
Staff writer Laura Corley contributed to this report.