Second officer dies in shooting near Georgia college as suspect confirmed dead

Officer Jody Smith, left, and Officer Nicholas Smarr (Facebook/Chesley Smarr)

A second police officer has died after a confrontation near Georgia Southwestern State University with a gunman who was found dead after a 27-hour manhunt, authorities said Thursday.

University police Officer Jody Smith died Thursday, the university told NBC News, a day after he was shot in a confrontation near the campus in Americus.

Americus police Officer Nicholas Ryan Smarr died Wednesday, and the body of the suspected gunman, Minquell Kennedy Lembrick, 32, was found with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday morning inside a local residence, police said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the body was that of Lembrick, who was alone in the house.

Authorities said Lembrick, 32, escaped after having shot Smarr and Smith at an apartment complex Wednesday morning near the campus in Americus, which is in Sumter County about halfway between Columbus and Albany.

More than 200 state and local officers launched a massive search for Lembrick, who was considered armed and extremely dangerous. Officials had offered $70,000 in rewards for his capture.

Smarr, 25, was responding to a call for a domestic disturbance when he was shot, police said, and Smith was providing backup. The two officers had been best friends since high school and went to the same police academy together, police said Thursday.

Smith, who joined the university police department in August, previously was Sumter County sheriff’s deputy and a part-time officer with the Plains Police Department, authorities said.

“When Jody heard the call and he knew that Nick was on his way — even though we had Americus police officers on their way as backup — he heard that call over the radio, and he took it upon himself to respond and back up his friend,” Americus Police Chief Mark Scott said.

“I can’t say enough about them. They are model officers,” Scott said. “They’re both heroes, in my opinion.”

The university, meanwhile, resumed normal operations Thursday after it was announced that Lembrick was dead. It had been on lockdown since the shootings Wednesday morning.

State prison records show that Lembrick has several previous convictions, including one in 2003 for false imprisonment. Details of the case, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison, weren’t immediately available.

Police confirmed reports that a Facebook account under the name “Minguell Gstreet Lembrick” belonged to the suspect. In a video, Lembrick said, “I’m gonna miss y’all folks, man.” Accompanying posts said he didn’t plan to be taken alive.

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