Crime

Fallen Monroe deputy ‘wanted to give back’ to his community

As a child, Michael Norris knew he wanted to be a Monroe County deputy.

A little more than two years ago, his father took Norris, then a young man in his early 20s, to talk with veteran Monroe deputy Capt. Jeff Thompson.

Thompson talked with Norris, asking questions to be sure it was the life he really wanted.

“He just looked me straight in the eye and just told me that he’d wanted to be a deputy. He grew up in this community and he wanted to give back. ... He felt like he could do that best as a deputy,” Thompson said. “I could look in his eyes and tell that it was coming from the heart. It was what he wanted to do.”

Norris knew the job carried risks.

“When you walk out that door, there’s a possibility you’re not coming back,” Thompson said. “He told me he did understand that and he knew that there was risk involved.”

Norris, 24, was placed on life support Saturday night after being shot in the head by a suspect.

He and deputy Jeff Wilson had gone to a house near Bolingbroke to help a man after receiving reports he was attempting suicide with a gun.

The man, identified Sunday as 46-year-old Christopher Calmer, exchanged gunfire with the deputies, striking both of them.

Calmer, who lived at the house at 111 Haley Lane, sustained a gunshot wound and was taken to Macon’s Medical Center, Navicent Health, for treatment after he was handcuffed by Wilson.

Wilson was still receiving care at the hospital Sunday, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Allison Selman-Willis said.

The hospital’s halls were filled Sunday with deputies, their families, church members and friends.

Norris was declared brain dead Sunday morning, but remained on life support that afternoon while recipients were sought for his organ donations, according to the sheriff’s office.

Warrants will be sought to charge Calmer with murder, attempted murder, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and five counts of aggravated assault, according to the sheriff’s office.

Calmer, who was released from the hospital Sunday, is being held at an undisclosed facility.

The GBI is assisting with the investigation because it involves two deputies.

‘HERE TO HELP’

Although his career was brief, Thompson described Norris as the future of the sheriff’s office.

“He was the best we had,” Thompson said.

Selman-Willis said Norris was “a dedicated employee who was always willing to do whatever it took to get the job done.”

“He was one of the most respectful, sincere and helpful individuals I have ever met in uniform or out of uniform,” she said.

Norris was raised in Culloden, the youngest of two sons raised by the city’s fire chief, Bennett Norris, and his wife, Fran, who works as a Macon legal secretary.

After graduating from Mary Persons High in 2008, Norris studied criminal justice at Gordon State College and graduated with an associate degree.

Soon after his talk with Thompson, he started work at the county jail.

When testing for his shot at other positions, he “scored off the charts” and “was always number one,” Thompson said.

With no position open as a patrol deputy -- Norris’ passion -- he served as a school resource officer at Katherine B. Sutton Elementary in Forsyth during the 2013-2014 school year.

He was transferred to patrol this summer, not long after marrying his wife, Logan, in April.

Those who knew Norris describe him as being able to crack jokes and smiling often, showing his dimples.

A country boy, he liked to hunt and fish.

As a child, he was among the first kids to volunteer to help at community festivals. If a neighbor had a tree down, he’d volunteer to help clear it.

“He was always stepping to the front of the line and asking, ‘What can I do?’ ... And he was that way with us,” Thompson said.

When Norris arrived at the house on Haley Lane, he was the first one through the door.

“He was the first one again to say, I’m here to help,” Thompson said.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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