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Deputy hurt, suspect dead in Ga. standoff

Monday, August 11, 2008

By JUANITA COUSINS, Associated Press Writer

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LULA, Ga. — 

A suspect was shot to death and a sheriff's deputy injured after an hour-long standoff near an elementary school in north Georgia Monday, authorities said.

Lula Elementary was locked down after someone saw a man with a handgun behind the school. The man pointed a gun at an off-duty officer who went to the scene after hearing shots, then ran away, Hall County Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.

The man barricaded himself inside his home _ an RV camper _ a few blocks from the school and a SWAT team responded. Sargent said several shots were fired but he did not know who fired first.

The injured deputy, SWAT team member Joe Groover, 35, underwent four hours of surgery for a severe right arm wound at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and was recovering in the intensive care unit, Hall County Maj. Jeff Strickland said.

The suspect died from a gunshot wound shortly after arriving at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Sargent said. Hospital officials identified him as 65-year-old Herbert Tate.

Lula Mayor Milton Turner, 47, who has known Tate all his life, said Tate had always "acted funny," and was paranoid that the federal government and other people were "out to get him."

The mayor said Tate, who was not employed, was very religious and recently told Turner that "the Lord called him to go on a mission."

Tate had been stumbling around in the street, said Mae Stewart, who saw him on her way to work at Lula Pharmacy near the school.

"He couldn't walk straight," the cashier said. "He just fell down, then he got up, picked up his gun and started walking again."

Sargent says authorities had no indication that Tate was headed to the 550-student school and do not believe he intended to harm anyone there.

The lockdown was lifted early Monday afternoon.

Hall County schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said the students were not told why the school was locked down and were kept calm during the incident.

Students have only been in class a few days. The Hall County school year started Thursday.

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