A Thomson man, who had managed to elude local and state authorities as a suspect in a shooting case last week on Knox Street, is now in custody.
Walter Parker, Jr., was taken into custody shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday, according to Thomson Police Department Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle. Mr. Parker was charged with one count of aggravated assault - a warrant which was sworn out against him by a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation - following a shooting last Wednesday night that left a 26-year-old Thomson man hospitalized. Additional criminal charges are expected to be filed against Mr. Parker, Lt. Whittle said.
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said he took Mr. Parker into custody at his mother's residence at the Pay or Go Trailer Park in Thomson.
"I had been in contact with some of his relatives, which led to Mr. Parker turning himself in," Sheriff Marshall said.
Meanwhile, the condition of the man shot, Tobias Jones, of Ellington Avenue, has been upgraded from critical to stable, Sheriff Marshall said. Mr. Jones, who was shot once in the chest, is being treated at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta.
The shooting occurred in the front yard of a residence at 511 Knox Street, shortly before 7 p.m.
After Officers John James, Adam Dye and Alston Brassell secured the crime scene, personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services, as well as firefighters/first responders with the Thomson Fire Department and McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services provided medial attention to Mr. Jones. He later was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.
A motive for the crime still had not been established as of Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Mr. Jones apparently was shot following an argument that broke out shortly before 7 p.m. The suspect reportedly left the scene of the shooting in a vehicle. Authorities later stopped the vehicle and and questioned its occupants, but did not find the alleged shooter. After being taken into custody on an investigative hold by police, the driver since has been released without any criminal charges being filed against him.
Just after the shooting, a crowd estimated at between 350 and 400 people gathered in the neighborhood of where the shooting occurred, causing police officers concern as tempers flared, resulting in a call for backup from deputies with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and troopers from the Georgia State Patrol post in Thomson. Deputies Mike Coke, Alan Baldwin and Robert Hoffman responded, as did Troopers John Freeman and Steve Shelton.
Four persons, who started disturbances and refused to leave the scene after being warned repeatedly by authorities to comply, were taken into custody on a charge of disorderly conduct, Lt. Whittle said. Those persons included: Whitley Nicole Brown, 19; Jane Annette Brown, 38; Tiffany Denise Davis, 20; and Andrea Delmar Bryant, 24, all of Thomson. The four since have been released on bail from the county detention facility.
Three special agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation later were called to the scene to help investigate the case, as well as assist in the process of the crime scene. They included Gary Nicholson, agent in-charge of the GBI office in Thomson, as well as Agents Steve Foster and David Leonard. Special Agent Joe Brown has now been assigned to assist the Thomson Police Department with the case, according to Agent Nicholson.