GBI releases information on sheriff death

GBI releases information on sheriff death
(GBI photo)
(GBI photo)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor died last night in a car crash, while he was chasing a burglary suspect, who was also shooting at police. That suspect was caught by authorities after a night-long search.

The GBI said that two Toombs Co. deputies became suspicious of a driver who abruptly tried to drive away from them. They tried to stop the driver, but he took off speeding.

When he entered Montgomery County, Montgomery Co. Sheriff Ladson O'Connor joined the chase. O'Connor lost control of his vehicle, wrecked, and was dead on the scene.

The suspect, shooting a gun, continued toward Uvalda where Georgia State Troopers had deployed stop sticks. The driver, Jim Edward Lowery, 35, wrecked his car and took off running. Nicole Dixie Best, 36, who was also in the vehicle, was quickly arrested. She was treated and released from a hospital, and is being held in the Montgomery Co. jail.

They searched through the night and around 9:30 this morning, GSP SWAT located Lowery in the McNatt Falls Community in Montgomery County. After gunfire was exchanged, Lowery finally gave up. 

GBI agents obtained warrants for Lowery charging him with three counts of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer and one count of Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, all felony charges.

The Georgia State Patrol has requested the GBI investigate the officer involved shooting incident. The GBI Eastman office will be investigating the incident involving the pursuit and the GBI Statesboro office will be investigating the officer involved shooting.

An autopsy of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor is being performed today at the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah. O'Connor was in his first term as sheriff and was sworn in on January 2013.

The GBI will conduct thorough investigations of each incident. When the investigations are complete, the investigative reports will be provided to District Attorney Vaughn for any action he deems appropriate.

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