AMERICUS, Ga. - The second officer shot on Wednesday in Americus has died. That is according to Georgia Southwestern State University who issued the following release Thursday evening:
“We have just received word that GSW Public Safety Officer Jody Smith has succumbed to his injuries and has passed away. We offer our deepest condolences to his family during this very difficult time. Officer Smith was a bright, young and energetic officer, and he will be sorely missed.”
Earlier in the day. authorities said the man accused of killing an Americus police officer and wounding another officer was found dead inside a Sumter County home Thursday.
Police held a news conference Thursday afternoon and announced suspect Minquell Lembrick, 32, died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities found Lembrick's body after receiving a tip from someone who knew the suspect. The caller told deputies Lembrick was at a home in a local neighborhood. State, local and federal agencies responded to the call.
First responders spent a "fairly lengthy" amount of time trying to get a response from inside the home. Police said a SWAT team was called to the scene and used a robot to gain entry into the house. Once detectives were inside, no one responded, and they found Lembrick's body.
Lembrick had been at large since Wednesday morning when police said around 9:40 a.m. he shot Americus Police Officer Nicholas Smarr, 25, and Georgia Southwestern State University Officer Jodi Smith as they were responding to a report of a domestic dispute at the Country Club Estates Apartments on South Lee Street near the campus.
Officer Smarr was killed and Officer Smith was taken to a hospital where he underwent successful surgery. Police said Thursday morning he was in critical, but stable, condition.
Both men had been officers since 2012.
Thursday morning, police pleaded for the public's help in finding Lembrick and said a $70,000 reward was being offered for information that could lead to an arrest.
"If someone knows where this man is hiding, they need to tell us, so we can get him off the street," police said Thursday morning, ahead of the announcement that Lembrick was dead.
Police said a number of law enforcement agencies worked through the night, searching for the suspect.
Wednesday night, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Kennan made a direct appeal to Lembrick to call 911 and arrange to turn himself into authorities, citing "enough violence has occurred today."
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Americus Police Chief Mark Scott said it was not uncommon for Georgia Southwestern State University officers to respond to incidents near the campus. Scott said the two departments have a very close relationship to help keep the students safe. He said both departments are grieving for the loss in their tight-knit law enforcement community.
“It's a tremendous loss to our family. It's been many, many years since we've had an officer fall in the line of duty here in Americus,” said Chief Scott. “It's a tragedy beyond words. It's one of our family members has been taken from us. Georgia Southwestern State University placed the campus on lockdown after the shootings.”
In an emergency alert published on the university’s website, the university stated:
“A shooting has taken place off campus near the south side of the Griffin Bell Golf Course. Students, faculty and staff should remain in their present location until further notice. Please secure all doors and windows (any additional actions such as shut down HVAC, turn off lights, move to unobservable part of the room, get on the floor, away from doors) and await further instructions or contact by first responders.”
The campus remained on a heightened alert throughout the evening due to the active search. The lockdown was lifted just before 10 p.m. when officers reported they had completed a building-by-building sweep of the campus.
GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said a Facebook page, which has now been taken down, had messages including “not going to jail” posted on it. The posts appeared shortly after the shooting and read: other life gone not going to jail." Also posted to Lembrick’s account was a brief Facebook Live video showing a young man partly concealed by shadows saying, “I’m gonna miss y’all folk, man.” The final message on Lembrick's page read: “Love yall.”