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Man, 22, killed by deputy, called 9-1-1 threatening hostage

UPDATED Monday, Aug. 6, 11:30 a.m. — The man who was shot to death by a Fayette County sheriff's deputy after holding a friend hostage at knifepoint early Saturday morning has been identified as Joseph Evitts, 22, of 207 Buckeye Road,

Fayette sheriff's officials said Evitts held a knife to the 17-year-old victim's throat and refused to drop the weapon prior to the shooting. Evans was struck in the head, since that was the only part of his body not obstructed by the victim, according to GBI Special Agent in Charge Wayne Smith.

Smith said Evitts and the 17-year-old were at the home of Evitts' grandmother when the incident occurred, but the GBI probe is focusing on whether the officer followed state law in taking the life of Evitts. With the investigation nearly concluded, "there is no indication at this point of any wrongdoing," Smith said.

Smith declined to name the 17-year-old hostage or the name of the sheriff's deputy who fired the shot. The results of the investigation, including the autopsy and toxicology results will be forwarded to the district attorney's office once the probe is complete, Smith said.

Smith said that Evitts and the victim were friends and had planned on going fishing later that day.

The 9-1-1 call that sent deputies scrambling to the home on Buckeye Road was chilling, as Evitts himself called 911 and said: “You’ve got 12 minutes to get here before I kill him.”

Within minutes, Evitts was dead, killed by a single bullet to the head from a Fayette County deputy sheriff, who had no choice but to fire to save a 17-year-old named Cody from having his neck slashed.

Those details come from a family friend of Cody’s, who is on medication at his home, still in shock at the tragic turn of events that began with a night of friendly drinking at Evitts' home on Buckeye Road in north Fayette County.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is probing Evitts' death, standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is saying nothing beyond a GBI-approved news release Saturday morning that gave no names of anybody involved. This update includes unofficial information from a family friend who knew both men.

According to the family friend — who wished to remain publicly unidentified — here’s what happened:

The younger Cody got a call Friday night from his friend Joe. The 22-year-old said he was depressed and wanted Cody to come to Evitts' home on Buckeye Road.

Joe Evitts was drinking heavily but the visit was friendly up until a single moment “when something snapped in Joe.”

As the two were relieving themselves off the back porch, Evitts started beating Cody, according to the family friend. Both Evitts and Cody are described as “big boys,” meaning neither was small in stature.

At some point during the struggle, Evitts called 9-1-1 and warned the dispatcher to get officers to his house within 12 minutes or he was going to kill Cody.

The first deputies to arrive found Evitts astride Cody, holding a knife to Cody’s throat. Cody suffered two lacerations and a cut mark across his throat, the family friend said.

Deputies shouted several times at Evitts to drop the knife, but Joe disregarded the warnings, the friend said. “The deputy had no choice,” the friend said. “He had to shoot.”

With Evitts still astride Cody on the ground, one deputy fired one pistol shot, striking Evitts in the head and killing him instantly.

Cody was treated at a hospital and released.

The family friend said that Cody was still in shock. “These two were friends, I know both of them. Cody was in my house a few days ago. I saw Joe Tuesday night. This is a tragedy.”

Here’s the Saturday news release from the sheriff’s department:

“On Aug. 4, 2012 at approximately 3:35 a.m. Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a fight in progress call at a residence on Buckeye Road in north Fayette County.

“When Fayette deputies arrived at the incident location they encountered a 22-year-old male suspect holding a 17-year-old victim hostage with a knife to the victim’s throat. The suspect refused to drop the deadly weapon even after the victim and a witness at the scene say the Fayette deputies ordered him multiple times to do so.

“Fayette deputies were forced to utilize deadly force by discharging their duty issued firearm and firing a single shot striking the suspect. Fayette County EMS responded to the scene where the suspect was later pronounced deceased.

“It is common practice for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office to request the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) to handle all officer involved shootings. This case is currently under investigation by the GBI.”

=======================================

FIRST PUBLISHED ONLINE STORY — A Fayette County deputy shot and killed a man early Saturday morning after a fight ended in a hostage standoff on Buckeye Road in north Fayette County.

A 22-year-old unidentified man was holding a 17-year-old hostage with a knife to the throat and refused to drop the knife after being warned “multiple times,” said Sheriff’s Investigator Brent Rowan in an emailed news release.

A deputy — so far unidentified — fired a single shot and killed the 22-year-old.

The status of the unidentified hostage was not disclosed.

Here’s the news release from the sheriff’s department:

“On Aug. 4, 2012 at approximately 3:35 a.m. Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a fight in progress call at a residence on Buckeye Road in north Fayette County.

“When Fayette deputies arrived at the incident location they encountered a 22-year-old male suspect holding a 17-year-old victim hostage with a knife to the victim’s throat. The suspect refused to drop the deadly weapon even after the victim and a witness at the scene say the Fayette deputies ordered him multiple times to do so.

“Fayette deputies were forced to utilize deadly force by discharging their duty issued firearm and firing a single shot striking the suspect. Fayette County EMS responded to the scene where the suspect was later pronounced deceased.

“It is common practice for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office to request the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) to handle all officer involved shootings. This case is currently under investigation by the GBI.”

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