Almost two summers ago the peace and tranquillity, normally found in an abundance in this small town near the Alabama border, was disrupted by a gunmen who was bent on forcing police to take his life. Before he did, however, he nearly took a deputy, a cop and a paramedic with him in a night that the Stewart County sheriff said will not soon be forgotten.
According to reports, Marcus Dwayne Dalton of Lumpkin, had planned a suicide-by-cop scenario and decided that he was going to take as many people down with him as he could. According to a woman who would later become one of Daltons hostages, Dalton was distraught because of an argument with his brother and a comment reportedly made by Stewart County Deputy Clinton Rivers.
Minutes later Dalton carried his tech-9 semi-automatic handgun up to the courthouse steps and unleashed a massive amount of firepower in downtown Lumpkin. During his bloody assault, Rivers, Lumpkin Police Chief Jay Stripling and EMT Vance Streeter were all severely injured by the gunfire. Hours later, police caught up with Dalton, who took Carter hostage before being gunned down by police.
Its probably the single worst day of my life, Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones said two years later. It was bad. Jones nearly lost one of his best deputies when Rivers took a bullet to the face during the confrontation. Jones said that Rivers lost the use of his eye but that he has managed to return to work and now is back out on the street. Its hard to slow these men down, Jones said. Hes the type that just wouldnt stop until he was back at work.
Stripling also returned to work and has resumed his post as Lumpkin police chief. Streeter, who was shot in the leg and nearly bled to the death at the scene, has had a rougher time of things and is still trying to recover. I dont know if hell ever be able to go back to work, Jones said. Hes a tough guy but I just dont know.
Streeter was injured trying to pull the officers to safety. GBI Director Vernon Keenan said that the bullet entered Streeters leg severing his femoral artery causing him nearly to bleed to death at the scene. The GBI still considers the case technically open, although Dalton died at the scene and there were no indications that any type of charges would be filed against any of the officers involved in the shootout that day.
District Attorney Cecilia Cooper said that as far as shes concerned, the case is closed. The case file sits in her office, but after careful consideration of its contents, shes content that the officers handled the situation as best they could. She said that Dalton was killed by gunfire from Plains Police Chief Henry Brown and GBI agents on the scene. He died from buckshot from the chiefs gun and there were two separate slugs that matched guns from two GBI agents weapons, Cooper said.
Cooper commended the work of the law enforcement officers who responded that day adding that when an armed person decides to take a life, it tough to stop that. His goal was to die by police, Cooper said. And in trying to accomplish that goal he nearly took three first responders down with him.
J.D. SUMNER [email protected]
Copyright 2007, The Albany Herald