PEACH COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia community is mourning the death of a deputy, killed in the line of duty in Peach County.
It happened near Hardison Road and Highway 42 in Byron at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is handling the case and said the deputies were responding to a dispute between two neighbors when the shooting happened.
GBI officials said a man was upset about neighbors riding 4-wheelers in the area and confronted them with a weapon.
“Apparently, while they were doing that, the next door neighbor became agitated with them. He came out and confronted them with a weapon,” GBI Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson said.
When deputies tried to talk with the suspect, identified as Ralph Elrod, agents said he opened fire.
“They walked about 10 to 15 yards from their patrol vehicles and were immediately shot by the subject at that house,” Ricketson said.
Authorities identified the fallen deputy as 41-year-old Sgt. Patrick Sondron. His partner, Del Smallwood, was critically injured.
Multiple agencies responded and officers shot Elrod in the abdomen. He is being treated at a local hospital.
The GBI said the incident has affected every law enforcement officer on scene.
“We're all very upset by this, these deputies responded out here to help people, that’s what they came out here, was to help the folks and we believe from what we can tell so far, they were ambushed in the driveway,” Ricketson said.
“Sgt. Sondron has been with us a long time. He was one of our shift supervisors, family man,” said Sheriff Terry Deese. “Del is divorced but he's engaged but he has two kids."
Local law enforcement agencies are already sharing their condolences.
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