'Countless lives saved' chief says of chaotic hospital shooting
Matthew Surine has been identified as the Laurens County sheriff’s deputy who was shot at Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin Sunday night.
Surine, 25, was wounded in the leg and is expected to make a full recovery. He has worked at the sheriff’s office since May 2012.
Shortly after 9 p.m., law enforcement officers encountered a gunman who opened fire, police Chief Tim Chatman said in a late night press briefing.
Officers returned fire, and the shooter initially got away.
“We saw a head popping up behind the hedges, and we challenged the individual, and we were able to lock him up,” Chatman said.
The gunman was identified as Akeem Jamal Woodard, 28, of Dublin. He is charged with aggravated assault, possession of firearms by a felon, criminal damage and obstruction, according to the booking report. Woodard also is charged with armed robbery, but it was not immediately clear how or if that charge was related to the shooting.
No patients or staff were harmed.
“He ran in one particular room, but no violence occurred in that room,” the chief said.
Chatman said Woodard was hospitalized last week.
“He had been in and out of Fairview Park for the last three days,” said Chatman, who was not sure why Woodard was hospitalized. “We don’t know why he came back.”
Officers conducted several searches of the hospital to make sure there was not a second shooter.
“We are certain there was one person,” Chatman said. “We want the public to know everything is safe.”
The hospital reopened about midnight, he said.
The GBI is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Two weeks ago, the hospital conducted an active shooter drill and the staff handled the situation according to procedure, Chatman said.
“We’re grateful to the Lord that he minimized. It could have been bad,” he said.
Chatman thought about the fatal police shootings that have plagued Middle Georgia this year, including the death of Eastman police officer Tim Smith, the killings of two officers in Americus, the shooting of two Byron police officers last week and the deaths of two Peach County deputies last month.
“All over America, you can see violence is growing everyday,” Chatman said.
For more on this story, come back to macon.com and read Tuesday’s Telegraph.