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Officials: Minquell Lembrick, Americus, Georgia cop shooting suspect, kills self

AMERICUS, Ga. -- The suspect in a Georgia shooting that critically wounded one officer and killed another on Wednesday fatally shot himself after barricading himself inside a home Thursday morning, officials say.

Police had been searching for the suspect, 32-year-old Minquell Kennedy Lembrick, since the Wednesday shooting, which happened after the officers responded to a domestic disturbance call in Americus. They had said Lembrick, a convicted felon, was considered armed and dangerous.

Jodi Smith (left) and Nicholas Smarr CBS affiliate WMAZ

Authorities say Americus police Officer Nicholas Smarr died Wednesday and Georgia Southwestern State University Officer Jodi Smith was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. Both had been officers since 2012. The officers were reportedly best friends and had graduated from high school and the police academy together.

Police offered a $70,000 reward for information leading to Lembrick’s capture. Thursday, a police official received a tip from someone he knew that Lembrick had come to his Americus home that morning. The tipster immediately left the home and contacted police.

SWAT teams surrounded the home and moved nearby residents out of the area. Americus Police Chief Mark Scott said as responders came to the scene, they heard what they thought was a gunshot. Hostage negotiators attempted to make contact with the person inside the home for more than an hour, unaware he had killed himself, Scott said.

Eventually, SWAT teams breached the door with a robot and a man officials believe is Lembrick was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Scott said Wednesday that Lembrick had an outstanding arrest warrant charging him with kidnapping and other counts when the two officers encountered him at an apartment complex where a domestic dispute had been reported. But officers didn’t know whom they were dealing with when they responded to the 911 call.

Scott said that typically, two Americus police officers respond to domestic violence calls. Smarr was awaiting backup from another Americus officer when his friend Smith heard the radio call and responded to assist, Scott said.

“He took it upon himself to respond and back up his friend,” Scott said. “They are model officers. They’re heroes, in my opinion.”

Scott said Thursday the victim was a woman with whom Lembrick had a relationship and said there was “clear evidence of violence” inside the home. The woman and her child were taken to a safe space.

After the shootings, Smith was airlifted to a hospital in Macon with critical injuries. Banks said Thursday morning the wounded officer remained in critical condition after undergoing surgery.

Fellow officers who knew them weren’t surprised that Smith, who worked on a college campus near the shooting scene, went to assist Smarr.  The two men had been lifelong friends.

“They’ve been close friends since grade school,” said Lt. Chuck Hanks of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, where both officers had previously worked as deputies. Hanks said the two men were still roommates, sharing a home in the county.

Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith told reporters both officers were engaged to be married in the coming months.

“It’s tough,” Hanks said. “We’re a small community. You see these people every day. You work with them every day.”

Authorities initially gave different spellings for the first names of both Smith and Lembrick, but said Thursday that they had confirmed corrected spellings for each.

Within an hour of the shootings Wednesday, posts on Lembrick’s Facebook page appeared to indicate he didn’t want to be taken alive. One message posted from the account read: “other life gone not going to jail.”

It was soon followed by a four-second Facebook Live video showing a young man partly concealed by shadows saying, “I’m gonna miss y’all folk, man.”

Miles with the GBI confirmed the Facebook page was Lembrick’s. It was taken down soon after the messages were posted.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Vernon M. Keenan said Lembrick “wreaked havoc” on the small Georgia community.

“One officer was killed in the line of duty and the other is fighting for his life as we speak,” Keenan said. “But the perpetrator of these heinous crimes against law enforcement is not here.”

Authorities initially gave different spellings for the first names of both Smith and Lembrick, but said Thursday that they had confirmed corrected spellings for each.

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