McDonough, GA – The Henry County police officer who was critically wounded during an altercation on Thursday morning was hit by the same bullet that also killed the suspect, police said.
It is unclear who fired the round, or how it struck both men, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith, 32, was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the face.
The seven-year veteran of the force remains in critical condition.
The incident began just after 8 a.m. at Smile Creators Family and Cosmetic Dentistry on Jonesboro Road, when 53-year-old Dimaggio McNelly pulled up in a red van and began causing a disturbance inside the building, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokesperson Natalie Ammons said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Charmaine Stallworth told WSB that she was sitting in the waiting room with her 4-year-old son when McNelly walked in, and that she instantly felt uneasy.
“Just the way that he came in to go to the back of the office area without someone walking you back,” Stallworth explained. “I knew this was not a good scene. The whole situation was just very odd.”
Ammons said that McNelly did not have an appointment, and that office staff did not know him or why he came in, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Office staff escorted McNelly back to the waiting area, where he sat down an wrote a note, Stallworth told WSB.
The employees then told him that doctor was in the middle of a two-hour procedure, at which point he began threatening them and tried to shove past them.
“I grabbed my stuff, my son, and I told him to run,” Stallworth told WSB.
The employees called 911, and Officer Smith was the first to arrive at the scene.
He tried speaking with the suspect for a bit, but McNelly ultimately became combative, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Officer Smith deployed his Taser multiple times during the encounter, but it “proved ineffective,” Ammons explained.
McNelly lunged at Officer Smith, leading to a physical altercation.
During the tussle, a single shot rang out.
“With that one shot, both the officer and the suspect were struck,” Ammons said.
McNelly died at the scene, GBI said in a press release.
An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
The investigation into how the shooting occurred and who fired the weapon is ongoing, Ammons said.
Investigators did not recover a gun from the suspect, and said it was possible that the round was fired by Officer Smith’s duty weapon, Henry County Police Captain Joey Smith said during the press conference.
The autopsy and additional forensic examinations will hopefully show exactly what it was that occurred,” Ammons said, according to WAGA.
A witness inside the office also recorded the incident with a cell phone, she added.