published Friday, February 21st, 2014

Suspect kills self rather than go to prison

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    Sheriff Gary Sisk makes a statement Thursday at the sheriff's office on the death of Alonzo Hood Sr. who was involved in a police standoff Wednesday.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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About a month before he died during a SWAT team standoff, Alonzo Shackleford Hood Sr. told his grandkids about his childhood in Lawrence County, Ala.

His mother was a maid, Hood said, and her white bosses talked down to her and even hit her. When he tried to report the abuse to police, the officers told him to stop complaining.

"He developed a dislike for white people and police officers," his 42-year-old son, Lorenzo Hood, said Thursday morning. "When he needed (the police), they weren't there. So why would he need them now?"

The night before, Alonzo Hood's life came to an end at the age of 63. It was a troubled life, his son said, one scarred by violence aimed toward law enforcement and other authority figures. This time, in Ringgold, Ga., police say he ended the dispute by shooting himself in the chest.

His most recent trouble with law enforcement began earlier this month, when an underage girl accused Hood of molesting her. The Catoosa County Sheriff's Office had active warrants for his arrest on three counts of child molestation and one count of aggravated sexual assault.

But when deputies arrived at Hood's house, at 50 Casaloma Trail, he wasn't there. Sheriff Gary Sisk said deputies tried to find him at least twice, though the sheriff didn't know specifically when that was. On Feb. 11, the sheriff's office posted Hood's picture on its Facebook page and asked citizens to call if they knew his whereabouts.

About 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, animal control officers tracked an abandoned dog to the yard next to Hood's home. They were wearing uniforms, and Hood opened fire. When the officers ran away, he chased them, continuing to shoot.

The animal control officers reported the shooting, Sisk said, and when deputies arrived, Hood allegedly shot at them, too. Police shut down a portion of Three Notch Road near the house, and Sisk asked for help from the Georgia State Patrol's SWAT team.

Hood did not respond when members of the SWAT team called out to him with a speaker. They threw pepper spray into the house, hoping to force him out. Hood did not leave, so the officers sent a robot with a camera inside, where it found Hood lying on the ground, dead from a shot to the chest.

Before Alonzo's death, his son said, doctors diagnosed him with a number of mental illnesses. Lorenzo said his father was in the marines but was ineligible for health benefits because he went AWOL and was dishonorably discharged.

Before Wednesday incident, Hood had a violent history in Chattanooga. In March 1977, according to Times Free Press archives, Hood shot a man in the chest and aimed for others at the Corley Manufacturing plant on Crescent Street, where he worked. His superiors had apparently just told him he was getting a new position at the plant that would pay less money.

Lorenzo Hood said his father had been passed over for a better job that ultimately went to a white co-worker. This ignited Alonzo Hood's anger. When he grabbed a chair and looked like he was going to strike someone, his boss fired him. Twenty minutes later, according to archives, he returned with a pistol and a pump shotgun.

A jury later convicted him of assault with the intent to commit murder.

Then, in 2003, Chattanooga and Red Bank police tried to pull Alonzo Hood over when they caught him driving 85 mph on State Route 58. He switched lanes, ran red lights and at one point sped down the wrong lane, toward oncoming traffic.

Eventually, according to an arrest report, Alonzo Hood pulled into a parking lot, smashed his vehicle into a police car, then buried his vehicle into another police car. Later, he punched an officer in the face.

For that incident, Hood pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

On Thursday morning, Lorenzo Hood walked through his father's home, a warehouse that used to house chickens. As he passed his father's bedroom, Lorenzo pointed out the splotches of Alonzo's blood on the floor.

In the back of the warehouse, Lorenzo showed off the piles of wood scraps his father had collected. Alonzo put the scraps together to create furniture.

As he toured the house, Lorenzo remained calm. Growing up, his father wasn't around much. They had only recently reunited, and Alonzo was just now getting to know Lorenzo's own children.

When he learned Wednesday night that his father was in a police standoff, Lorenzo told his children that Alonzo was going to die.

"Before he goes back to jail," Lorenzo said, "he'll kill whoever is trying to take him. Or he'll make them kill him."

Earlier this week, Alonzo wrote a letter to his friends, preparing for the moment when police found him. He said he could no longer be subjected to a "government of the elite."

"I am adamant in my refusal to be incarcerated," he wrote. "My refusal will cause an inevitable confrontation and I will die but that is OK too.

Remember me as one who has taken all that one can take."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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