Georgia Police Say Soldier Killed Sheriff's Deputy, Then Shot Himself
AUGUSTA, Ga. – A National Guardsman who appeared to be drunk and had been firing at passing cars shot and killed a sheriff's deputy, then committed suicide alongside a Georgia road, authorities said Sunday.
Evidence shows Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, fired 35 rounds from his M4 semiautomatic rifle, said Richmond County Sheriff's Capt. Scott Gay said. Hodges and 47-year-old Deputy James D. Paugh were found dead on the side of Bobby Jones Expressway after 1 a.m. Sunday, Gay said.
Hodges was based with the Tennessee National Guard but was on temporary duty at Fort Gordon in eastern Georgia for training, said Buz Yarnell, a spokesman for the military post. Yarnell said he was not aware of any problems with Hodges before the shooting, and he would not say if Hodges had previously been deployed overseas.
Sheriff Ronnie Strength told The Augusta Chronicle that Paugh was off duty and on his way home when he saw a suspicious car on the side of the road. He was shot several times when he stopped to check on the car and apparently fired two shots from his service weapon before he was killed.
"He was just checking that car. He pulled over his motorcycle and didn't even get to put the kickstand down before the suspect began firing on him," the sheriff said.
Gay said Paugh had been with the department for 17 years and was an avid motorcycle rider and cook. He said Paugh would cook turkey for his fellow deputies during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Authorities said Hodges had been having some sort of dispute with a female, though it does not appear Paugh knew about that. Gay said authorities took the woman into custody for questioning.
No one else was injured in the shooting, Gay said.
Two people could be heard speaking inside a house at Hodges' last known address in Millington, Tenn., about 15 miles northeast of Memphis. A woman who answered the door at the house declined comment to an Associated Press reporter and refused to say whether he lived there and if she was related to Hodges.
Neighbors said Hodges moved into the brown one-story home with his wife, who they said also serves in the military, about a year ago. They said the couple was quiet and often away from the home.
"He seemed like a cool guy, jovial," said next-door neighbor Melvin Johnson, 43.
Tennessee National Guard spokesman Randy Harris said he had no information about Hodges or the shooting.
Funeral services for Paugh were incomplete as of Sunday afternoon.