ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek confirmed to WALB News 10 shortly after 1:00 a.m. that Lt. Cliff Rouse was killed Thursday night. By 4:15 a.m., officers were on their way to get a judge to sign arrest warrants charging a suspect with the murder.
Lt. Rouse responded to an armed robbery at the Pitt Stop Convenience Store on Sylvester Road near the old Cooper Tire plant at 10:00 Thursday night. He was shot nearby at Nob Hill Mobile Home Estates moments later.
20-year old Dontavius Raynard Thomas is charged with felony murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Chief Cheek says more charges are pending.
During a search involving dozens of law officers, a Dougherty County Sheriff's deputy found Thomas hiding under a mobile home not far from the site where Rouse was gunned down. Chief Cheek says officers found the suspected murder weapon (a 9mm Glock), money stolen from the Pitt Stop, and clothes worn by the robber. The items were hidden in insulation under that mobile home.
Chief Cheek says he's not sure what Rouse saw that led him to the mobile home park. His first radio contact was a call for help. Over his radio, Rouse told a sergeant "Get an ambulance. I've been shot."
Rouse was shot once in the abdomen and once in the left leg. He died after being rushed to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Rouse was wearing a protective vest, but the fatal shot apparently hit him just below the bottom of the vest.
The 18-year DCP veteran was 39-years old. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Authorities set up a command center in the area, and every available officer from numerous agencies joined the search for the gunman. Chief Cheek expressed his appreciation to officers from the Albany Police Department, Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, Albany Dougherty Drug Unit, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Marshal's Service, Dougherty County School Police, Lee County Sheriff's Office, and Albany State University Police for assisting his officers in tracking down the suspect quickly.
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