Law enforcement officers across the nation are morning the death of a U.S. marshal based in Macon who was killed in the line of duty.
Just before 9 a.m. Friday, Long County law enforcement officers responded to the fatal shooting of a U.S. deputy marshal.
Pat Carothers, 53, was wounded while serving an arrest warrant near the rear of the Spring Creek Mobile Home Park on Tibet Road in Ludowici.
The suspect, Dontrell Montese Carter, was armed with a rifle as marshals came to serve a warrant for attempted murder of police officers, domestic violence and unlawfully discharging a weapon in Sumter County, S.C.
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Carter also was fatally wounded. A news release from the U.S. Marshals Service says the suspect was killed by officers who returned fire.
“It’s terrible,” said John Edgar of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force that Carothers commanded. “He was just a great family man, a great employee, a great mentor and a great leader.”
Carothers, the commander of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force was wearing his protective vest when he was hit twice, once at the top of his vest.
One of the bullets hit his heart.
Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick said protective gear has its limitations.
“Those vests are not going to stop a rifle round,” said Bittick, who lost officer Michael Norris in a shooting two years ago.
Bittick lamented the death of another law enforcement officer.
Carothers and others remembered the fallen officers at the Macon Regional Crimestoppers luncheon on Nov. 7, just hours after the Peach County deputies were fatally wounded.
As the agent in charge of the Macon field office, he worked closely with the community crime-fighting partnership, said Crimestoppers executive director Warren Selby Jr.
“Just another tragedy. It just doesn’t seem to end,” Selby said Friday afternoon. “We kind of thought we were back on our feet … then something else hits us.”
Crimestoppers relied on Carothers and the task force when they received tips about violent offenders.
“Pat was a true professional in the law enforcement field,” Selby said. “Just another tragedy we have to deal with. … It’s a sad day for local law enforcement.”
A resident of the Ludowici neighborhood said he was still in bed when he heard gunshots, freelance reporter Lewis Levine told The Telegraph.
“I talked to people who were there and they didn’t see anything,” Levine said.
Older-model mobile homes are tucked off the rural highway connecting Long and Liberty counties, Levine said.
Multiple agencies responded to the call, including Long County deputies, the GBI, ATF and FBI.
“We just lost one of our own,” Levine was told as he was ordered to back away from the crime scene.
The FBI confirmed the marshal’s death, but did not release information about the suspect.
U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director David Harlow issued a statement on Carothers’ death.
“Our deputies and law enforcement partners face dangers every day in the pursuit of justice nationwide,” Harlow stated. “The fugitive who killed Deputy Commander Carothers was extremely dangerous, wanted for trying to kill law enforcement officers and deliberately evading authorities. Pat is a hero and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and five children.”
The Associated Press contributed.