CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - Forest Park police say two officers who were shot by a man on the job Wednesday were no rookies.
The man who police say shot the officers is dead. The incident happened along Mitchell Street in Forest Park on Wednesday morning.
Police found the body of the shooter, identified by authorities as James Jacob Bailey, behind a home near the site of the shooting.
Channel 2’s Tyisha Fernandes was the first reporter to arrive at the scene. She spent the day Wednesday speaking to witnesses, with some saying they saw more than 20 police cars swarm the middle school down the block.
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Witness said they first they thought something happened at the school only to find out later that there was a shootout between police and a gunman on the street in front of the school.
“I moved down here from New York so my kids, could be safe and I needed to find out what’s going on,” witness Myrna Rosado told Fernandes.
Rosado said she rushed to Forest Park Middle School after she got some terrifying text messages from her 12-year-old daughter - who was in class at the school.
“My daughter text me, ‘Mom, I’m having a lockdown and it’s not a drill.’ I asked her what was going on and she goes, ‘I don’t know, but I’m scared though,’” Rosado told Fernandes.
When Rosado arrived, she said saw the school swarming with police officers, but they were actually investigating a shootout just a block away.
Police said they were responding to a reckless-driving call and when they arrived, police said they saw James Jacob Bailey on a motorcycle, driving erratically without a helmet on.
Police said the two officers tried to apprehend Bailey, but he ran behind a home.
Witness Jose Martinez said he saw Bailey armed with a gun with police close behind him.
“They told him to stop. They pulled the gun but he didn’t stop and he run to the back of the house over here,” Martinez told Channel 2 Action News.
The gunfire between the two officers and Bailey left one officer shot in the neck, the other in the leg. Bailey is dead.
Police told Fernandes that both officers have been in law enforcement for at least seven years. Police also said they’re good officers.
“Both of the officers, I believe, are in their late 20s,” Forest Park Police Maj. Chris Matson told Fernandes.
“It never gets easy when it’s one of your own,” Hobb told Winne.
“You have a battery of emotions that you go through, the things that you got to do, the responsibility that you have, but at the same time you’re battling, because you got two officers, the conditions are not known whether you’re going through all that,” Hobb told Winne.
Officer Tim Sterrett was shot in the neck area and had surgery Wednesday night. He is showing signs of improvement Thursday morning and will remain in ICU for a while.
Officer Demarkus Hutcherson was shot in the leg and is recovering well.
Channel 2 Action News dug into Bailey’s past. A 2010 document indicates a first offender sentence for Bailey for a methamphetamine count, cruelty to children and battery-family violence.
A 2016 document indicates a theft by taking charge and a negotiated guilty plea sentence of seven years but upon serving one year, the remaining six "may be served on probation."
A Department of Community Supervision officer said at the time Forest Park officers encountered Bailey and he shot them, he had an active probation violation warrant out for him.
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