Officer-involved shooting is 2nd in six months

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - An officer-involved shooting that left one man dead at a motel is the second shooting that Lowndes County Sheriff's deputies have had in the past six months.

On Thursday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the name of the man who was shot and killed by Lowndes County deputies at a motel.

Two Lowndes County deputies responded to the parking lot of an Econo Lodge off of St. Augustine Road around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

According to a report, 42-year-old Dexter Pernell Bethea was shot and killed when he tried to hit the deputies with his vehicle.  Officials said he was eluding an arrest at the time.

On Thursday, the GBI confirmed two other people, 29 year-old Jasmine Riley and 39 year-old Michael Hendley, both of Valdosta were also in the car.

"Deputies fired on the driver, and they struck and killed Dexter Pernell Bethea," said Steve Turner, of the GBI. "The agents tried to arrest the people in the car, including Mr. Bethea. Mr. Bethea allegedly took off in the car to try to get away and in so doing threatened the lives of the deputies by trying' to run over the deputies."

Riley and Hendley were both arrested after the shooting and are being held in the Lowndes County jail facing multiple drug charges.

GBI Special Agent In charge Steve Turner said investigators found cocaine, marijuana, and a large amount of cash in the car.

But the investigation is still far from over.

"We're still conducting interviews and still looking at all the facts trying' to determine exactly what happened at the scene and why the force was used," Turner said.

Two others, 40 year-old Christopher Williams, of Jacksonville, and 32 year-old Connie Wood, of Jacksonville Beach, were arrested about an hour before the shooting, also in connection with the attempted drug sale.

Turner said both officers did fire shots, but how many is still unclear. "The number of times he was hit, we're not sure about that either. We'll let the autopsy tell us."

That autopsy is expected to be completed on Friday. Agent Turner would not release the names of the two deputies involved, saying he did not want to make them targets.

He said it will likely be more than a month before the GBI finishes its investigation and turns over a report to the District Attorney

During a search of Bethea's vehicle, agents seized cash and what was suspected to be cocaine and marijuana.

Officials said the deputies were placed on paid leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure.

Wednesday's shooting comes less than six months after another incident in December. In that incident, deputies responded to the report of a man with a gun who was threatening to commit suicide.

Lowndes County Deputy SSgt. Charles McEady fired several shots at 52-year-old Thomas Joslyn, after he approached Mceady with a gun, making more suicide threats.

Joslyn was taken to the hospital after he was hit in the leg, but survived his injuries. He was later charged in that incident.

SSgt. McEady was later cleared in the case, and returned to active duty.

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