After more than an hour of negotiating, the suspect in a Murray County, Ga., SWAT standoff allegedly shot himself in the head before walking out of the home he was barricaded in on Monday afternoon.
The suspect, whose name had not been released as of Monday afternoon, was in critical condition, a spokesperson for the Murray County Sheriff's Office said. He was arrested on a murder charge, according to authorities.
The Coker and Spring Place elementary schools were placed on lockdown from around 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., schools Superintendent Eric McFee said, after the sheriff alerted him of an incident on Leonard Bridge Road, not far from the schools.
The SWAT incident had nothing to do with the schools, and the officers were merely looking for a suspect near the schools.
For about 30 minutes, students and teachers could not leave their classrooms. Around 10:30 a.m., McFee said, the sheriff told him the SWAT standoff had moved away from the area. For about two more hours, the elementary schools were on a "soft lockdown," meaning nobody could come in or out of the buildings. Staff and students, though, could move from room to room inside.
The circumstances leading up to the standoff are not clear, but sheriff's office Chief Deputy Brian Ingle said a shots-fired call came in just before 10 a.m. at a home near the intersection of Leonard Bridge Road and Highland Way.
A woman, said to be the suspect's wife, was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, Ingle said. She was taken to a local hospital and died shortly after.
Ingle said investigators learned that the suspect had fled and barricaded himself in a home in the 100 block of Holly Creek Drive.
Ingle said police tried to talk to the man and called negotiators to persuade him to come out. When that didn't work, he said, the Georgia State Patrol SWAT team was called and also tried to negotiate with the suspect.
"That failed, and that's when they introduced [tear] gas to try to get him to surrender," Ingle said.
But the suspect still did not comply, he said. After about an hour, officials heard gunshots in the residence. The suspect then walked out with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
"He was able to walk but is in critical condition due to the nature of the wound," Ingle said.
The state patrol, Chatsworth Police Department and Georgia Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.