Decatur County GA Sheriff Wiley Griffin was one of several Georgia sheriffs who went to a hospital in Macon, Ga., this weekend to comfort the family of two Monroe County, GA, Sheriff’s deputies shot in the line of duty on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Sheriff Griffin, who is the current president of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, was notified Saturday evening that the two deputies–Jeff Wilson and Michael Norris–were shot after they responded to a report of suicide threats at a home in Bolingbroke, Ga.
According to Griffin, deputies walked up to the front door of the home, which was ajar, and when no one answered their knocks, they stepped inside the home. Inside, a man ambushed them by shooting Norris five times and Wilson three times. Although both men were wearing bulletproof vests, one of the bullets struck Norris in the head and three bullets hit Wilson in his hip, leg and chest. Wilson was able to return fire at his assailant, then subdue him and handcuff him.
The suspect was identified as 46-year-old Christopher Keith Calmer, who was charged with murder and attempted murder.
Norris was declared brain-dead Sunday. His family is respecting his wishes to be an organ donor, so Norris is being kept on life support until recipients of the organs can be identified.
Sheriff Griffin updated his Facebook page Saturday night asking followers to pray for the victims and their families.
Norris was 24 years old, married, and had been a patrol deputy for less than a year. He had served as a school resource officer at a Forsyth, Ga., elementary school during the 2013-2014 school year, and had previous experience working as a jailer.
Wilson is in stable condition and it isn’t anticipated that he will need surgery to repair his wounds, according to Sheriff Griffin.
In a statement, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, led by Sheriff J.C. Bittick, said:
“The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office appreciates the outpouring of support during this difficult time. It is our hope that Deputy Norris’s last act of true service — organ donation — will prevent another family from suffering a similar loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Norris’s wife, parents and other family members.”
Sheriff Griffin said he and several other Sheriffs active in the Sheriff’s Association went to Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon–a short distance north of Monroe County–to comfort the families of the two deputies who were shot. The delegation of Sheriffs included Scott Berry of Oconee County, Bobby McLemore of Ben Hill County, Terry Dease of Peach County, Chris Prine of Lowndes County and Steve Wilson of Walker County.
“We spent all day Sunday talking with the families of both men, especially of Norris,” Sheriff Griffin said. “It is particularly sad that Norris was so young and had really just begun his career, serving others was what he always wanted to do.”
Norris was the son of Bennett Norris, the fire chief of Culloden, Ga., and Fran Norris, a legal secretary in Macon. His wife’s name is Logan.
Related: Fallen Monroe deputy ‘wanted to give back’ to his community (Macon Telegraph)
Sheriff Griffin: officers face life-and-death on a regular basis
Sheriff Griffin said there’s no such thing as a routine call and that police officers are trained never to let their guard down. He said officers are reminded not to become complacent just because they respond to 100 “safe” calls in a row, because the next one could be much more serious.
In this case, the two Monroe County deputies were ambushed and had no time to react, Sheriff Griffin said.
“Even pulling over someone who ran a stop sign is not a routine call, because it could be a stolen car or it could be someone who has just robbed a bank.”
“They had a duty to go in there. The suspect’s family had called 911 saying that he was tired of living and wanted to kill himself. They had to investigate.”
Calmer’s reason for shooting at the officers was not immediately known. He was taken to a Macon hospital and taken into custody later.