Clayton County

Community mourns loss of fallen Riverdale police major

Riverdale Police Major Greg Barney

RIVERDALE, Ga. — The community of Riverdale is coming together after a police officer was killed in the line of duty Thursday morning.

Maj. Greg Barney was helping to serve a no-knock warrant at the Villages on the River apartments, when a suspect ran out of the apartment shooting.

Barney was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center where he did not survive surgery.

A sources told Channel 2's Tom Jones that Barney was shot twice, including in the abdomen. Barney was not wearing a vest at the time of the shooting.

Investigators chased and shot the suspect, who was taken to Atlanta Medical Center for his injuries. Police have not released the suspect's name or his condition.

Riverdale Police Chief Todd Spivey said Barney was a 25-year veteran of the department.

The chief offered some insight Thursday night into a possible reason Barney was not wearing a bulletproof vest.

"You will typically find members of command staff that are throughout the day spend the majority of time, spend their time on administrative assignment, don’t wear a vest. You'll notice I don't have mine on," Spivey told Channel 2’s Matt Belanger.

Neighbors described the incident as a wild scene with officers running around everywhere.

Zahir Mitchell pulled out his cellphone and started recording as police screamed for help at the apartment complex.

“They calling their captain right now because one of them over there is probably hit,” Mitchell could be heard saying on the video.

Mitchell told Channel 2’s Tom Jones he heard a loud noise as a Clayton County police officer was at the door of one of his neighbors.

He said right after that, the officer was shot.

“Stay down. Say no more. When he told me to get on the floor I got on the floor,” Mitchell said was what he was told when police approached him.

It's something he says he will never forget.

“I was literally in the zone, I was in the middle of everything,” Mitchell said.

Clayton County Police Chief Mike Register told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that even though Barney was not a member of his department, his death is a loss to everyone.

"I think it's a difficult time for everybody. You know, law enforcement, the officer's family, the community. Anytime something like this happens, it's just sad," Register said.  "When one officer falls, we all fall."

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill released a statement Friday:

"Yesterday, our community lost a well loved and very respected member of Clayton County law-enforcement, Major Greg Barney. Because of his charismatic personality, Major Barney was a iconic figure in the City of Riverdale. Anyone whoever lived or worked in the Riverdale knew him, and his name was synonymous with the city.

I met Greg Barney in 1992 and we became friends instantly. He was easy to like, fun to be around, and a very good solid individual. Major Barney loved being a policeman, and his passion for law-enforcement made him one of the best. His work was a major contributing reason why the community and law-enforcement in Clayton County work together so well.

Major Greg Barney gave his life trying to remove drug dealers from our community, and he would want us to finish the job. As we honor our fallen hero, we will not let his death be in vain. In Major Barney's memory, we must become resolved more than ever, to let all remaining drug dealers know that their presence will not be tolerated in Clayton County.

Please continue to pray for Major Barney's immediate and law-enforcement family as we mourn and celebrate the life of such a good man."

Robin Palmer credits Barney with saving her life.

"He did. Not once, not twice but several times," Palmer told Belanger. "He was more than just a police officer, he was my friend."

She said Barney responded several times after she called 911 while having anxiety attacks and helped calm her down.

"He gave all he had to the community he served," Palmer said.

Others who knew Barney told Belanger that Barney had a special interest in helping young people stay out of trouble.

"Maj. Barney really tried to help our community and our kids and this is really tragic, very tragic loss," said Riverdale resident Michelle Bruce.

Channel 2's Carl Willis found two women at the First Baptist Church in Riverdale putting up a sign of support for the fallen officer's family Thursday night.

"We're changing our sign just to say our prayers are with the family," said Frances Lee. "My heart was broken."

Caressa Harp told Willis that the loss of Barney is huge loss to the whole Riverdale community.

"It's a sad situation for the simple fact that he was making a difference in young people's lives also," Harp said. "It's a heavy heart. Very heavy."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation into the shooting. The GBI said an autopsy will be done on Barney Friday morning.