DOOLY CO., GA (WALB) - The GBI responded to the scene of a multi-agency SWAT standoff that ended in the death of a Dooly County resident. The day-long armed stand-off ended Friday afternoon in Dooly Co. near Vienna.
According to officials, Joseph Harper and his ex-wife were scheduled to separate property at the home on April 16.
Dooly Co. sheriff deputies and the Tri-County Special Response Team were dispatched to Harper's home on the 600 block of Nelson Corner Road at about 7 a.m. When officers arrived on the scene they discovered household items in the yard, along with Harper standing on the porch wearing a bulletproof vest, holding a shotgun, and with several handguns in holsters . A member of his ex-wife's family was loading the property at the time.
Deputies say Harper began to aggressively wrap the shotgun's sling around his hand and tap the trigger with his finger. Deputies then instructed the ex-wife's family member to leave the property.
After also leaving the scene, deputies contacted Sheriff Craig Peavy and notified him of the incident.
Several deputies returned to the home after phone conversations between the DCSO and Harper, in an attempt to calm the situation down and retrieve the remaining property for the court order. Harper exited the home with the shotgun and lowered the barrel in the direction of Sheriff Peavy and the deputies. A Special Response Team was called in to assist in the situation.
An arrest warrant was then issued by the Superior Court, charging Harper Aggravated Assault. While members of the Tri-County SRT Team and support from Lowndes Co. SWAT and GSP SWAT were on the scene, Harper exited and entered his home multiple times wearing the bulletproof vest, a gas mask, and several guns.
At about 3:20 p.m. Sheriff Peavy and negotiators spoke with Harper multiple times by phone to attempt reaching a peaceful resolution. Harper then began to shoot multiple rounds at the deputies and SRT members.
During that time, at least one round was fired by officers in response to Harper's aggressiveness. Harper continued to fire at officers.
SRT members then fired canisters of gas and less-lethal deterrents to resolve the situation. A gunshot was heard from inside the home shortly afterwards.
A robot was deployed to enter the residence and discovered Harper's body in the living room area. He was pronounced dead on the scene, due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
No officers were injured during the incident.
The GBI is continuing to conduct an independent investigation to determine what else occurred during the incident.