• Police seek witness in Gilmer Co. shootout


    GILMER COUNTY, Ga. - Four people are charged after a shootout in Gilmer County on Sunday.

    Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson says four men went to a house on Simmons Road just east of Ellijay Sunday morning to "collect a debt," but the man they were hoping to collect from was armed and ready.

    "They went armed and they showed up and things went south in a hurry and the bullets started flying," Nicholson said. "This was not a random shooting."

    Channel 2 Action News reporter Tony Thomas and photographer Arnold Sinclair were the only journalists there as deputies arrested one of the suspects, Lloyd Silvers.

    Authorities said Silvers and Dennis Gravely are now behind bars. Two other men, Ricky Silvers and Ben Forrest, are being treated at Atlanta Medical Center for head wounds suffered in the shootout. All four are being charged with aggravated assault.

    For hours Sunday, the man they were trying to collect from, James Michael Stafford, was the subject of an intense manhunt across Gilmer County.

    The sheriff said after the shootout in front of his home, Stafford dropped off a wounded woman at the North Georgia Medical Center in Ellijay, abandoned his car and took off on foot.

    Deputies believed he was a suspect and searched for hours, but never found him. Later, the sheriff told Thomas that Stafford is only believed to be a witness even though it is believed he opened fire on the other men.

    "We actually need him to come in and talk to us," Nicholson said.

    The manhunt forced the lockdown of the hospital for several hours Sunday, leaving patients puzzled and worried.

    "The cop came in my room and checked the bathroom and closets. They were checking all the rooms for everybody," said patient Jacob Aaron.

    The search for Stafford is still under way.

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