Crime

Centerville man headed to prison for shooting cop may never get out, prosecutor says

GBI special agent describes long night after Centerville officer shot

GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson describes the events that unfolded after Centerville officer Jeremy Mashuga was shot late Friday, April 27, 2018. Perry Baggett was taken into custody after an all-night standoff, Ricketson said.
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GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson describes the events that unfolded after Centerville officer Jeremy Mashuga was shot late Friday, April 27, 2018. Perry Baggett was taken into custody after an all-night standoff, Ricketson said.

A 46-year-old man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for attempted murder and related charges for wounding a Centerville police officer and firing on other officers responding to a domestic incident-turned-ambush last year.

Perry Jason Baggett of Centerville was also sentenced to 40 years of probation in Houston County Superior Court on Thursday. But Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters said that Baggett is “old enough to where I don’t think he will ever get out.”

Baggett was sentenced after pleading guilty to attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated assault for the April 27, 2018, shooting of then-Centerville police Cpl. Jeremy Mashuga in the abdomen on the stoop of Baggett’s home, Winters said.

Mashuga, now with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, and Centerville police officer Tyler Wilcox had responded to a 911 call of Baggett and his girlfriend yelling and screaming in the front yard of 103 Jeanette Place.

Mashuga, who fell to the ground when he was shot, was able to roll away and then get on his feet and run for cover behind Wilcox’s patrol vehicle, Winters said.

Baggett also pleaded guilty to another count of aggravated battery for shooting Mashuga with the same .40 caliber handgun in the foot while he, Wilcox and arriving officers Karl Thomas of Warner Robins police and Tyrone Johnson of Houston County Sheriff’s Department were under fire, Winters said. Baggett also pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated assault for firing on the officers, Winters said.

The officers were able to get Mashuga into Wilcox’s patrol vehicle, and Wilcox headed for Houston Medical Center. Wilcox was met on the way by an ambulance that took Mashuga to the Medical Center, Navicent Health.

Meanwhile, more law enforcement officers were arriving on the scene of the shooting and a standoff ensued that included gunfire exchanges between Baggett and officers. The standoff lasted for several hours and into the next morning.

Baggett had initially fired on Mashuga after coming to the front door and when Mashuga looked away when the garage door was opened by Baggett’s girlfriend, Winters said. Baggett then retreated inside and started firing from an upstairs window.

One of Baggett’s fingers was shot off in the exchange of gunfire and that’s when Baggett switched to firing a rifle, Winters said. Baggett also pleaded guilty to possession of handgun during the commission of a crime and possession of a rifle during the commission of a crime.

The Houston County Sheriff’s Office response team, a tactical unit, eventually blew off the door of Baggett’s home and sent two teams of officers in to locate Baggett and take him into custody. Baggett was found hiding in the attic, Winters said.

The remaining six counts of aggravated assault against Baggett in the 16-count indictment for firing on other law enforcement officers were dismissed as part of the plea agreement, Winters said.

The plea agreement was run by Mashuga and the other officers to make sure all were on board with it, Winters said.

“Hopefully, this will send a message that when you do something of this nature, there will be serious consequences,” Winters said of the plea and sentence. “It’s unfortunate ... that it seems in today’s society that it’s more acceptable to take a gun and shoot or attack a law enforcement officer, and I don’t believe that should be accepted.”

The shooting underscores the dangers that law enforcement officers may face on any given day, Winters said.

“As bad as this was, it could have been a lot worse, and thankfully, the Lord was looking over (Mashuga) that night ... I think we just need to realize how: I mean, we say it — It’s kind of trite when when we say it — that when they leave and go to work each and every day, they don’t know if they’re going to make it home,” Winters said.

“But that’s a perfect example of that statement, that they don’t know; that every time they walk out the door, they’re putting their lives in danger,” Winters said.

Baggett’s attorneys Doron Dvorak and Robert Gurd with the Houston County Public Defender’s Office were not reached for comment Friday.

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Becky Purser covers breaking and Houston County news. She previously covered crime and courts for Houston and Peach counties for The Telegraph. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in communications/news-editorial sequence, Becky also has covered city and county government for Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia newspapers.
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