published Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Suspect sought in killing of Ga. Police officer

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    Heavily armed law enforcement officers storm a home in Frog Hollow subdivision on Winterville Road after 2 Athens-Clarke County police officers were shot, one dead, in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

ATHENS, Ga. — Authorities in a north Georgia college town were searching early Wednesday for a suspect in a shooting that left one Athens police officer dead and another wounded.

It began just before 1 p.m. Tuesday when Senior Police Officer Tony Howard stopped a Chevrolet Suburban. The passenger got out of the SUV and shot and wounded Howard, police said.

The driver of the Suburban was taken into custody, but the passenger ran from the vehicle and encountered another senior officer, Elmer "Buddy" Christian, according to authorities. He shot and killed Christian in his patrol car, police said in a statement.

The suspect has been identified as 33-year-old Jamie Hood.

The slain officer leaves a wife, a son and a daughter.

Howard underwent surgery at a hospital later, police Capt. Clarence Holeman told The Associated Press. Police said the officer was expected to recover from his gunshot wounds but they did not give details about his condition.

After the shooting, police fanned out along a major highway and conducted a house-by-house search for Hood, who authorities said was still at large early Wednesday.

The shootings came on the same day police chiefs from around the country said they supported longer prison terms for gun-carrying felons as a way to combat a recent rise in line-of-duty deaths. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, also saying he was worried about the rise, directed U.S. attorneys nationwide to identify repeat offenders for possible prosecution under federal law that would make them eligible for stiffer sentences.

A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. Before the Georgia shootings, so far this year, 49 lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.

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