Accused cop-killer Jamie Hood surrendered to heavily armed police and freed four hostages at about 11:20 tonight, ending a seven-hour standoff in North Athens.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan went on television at 10 tonight to promise Hood he wouldn’t be harmed if he surrendered peacefully.
Hood, whose brother was shot dead by police in 2001 after he held a gun to an officer’s head, is concerned for his safety, Keenan said.
“I want to commit to you that if you come out without a weapon, I pledge to you that you will not be harmed,” he said in a message directed to Hood.
Hood took eight hostages at an apartment off Boley Drive this afternoon, authorities said. He released two men and two children, ages 9 months and 3 years, at about 8:30 and the edgy standoff continued for nearly three more hours.
Hood surrendered within an hour after police asked a television news truck to broadcast the unfolding drama live, though televised pictures failed to show the actual surrender live.
Police had been talking with Hood for hours, trying to negotiate his surrender and the hostages’ release, Keenan said earlier, at a 7:45 p.m. news conference.
“This is a very tense situation, but we have a commitment to see the safe release of these persons and the safe surrender of Mr. Hood,” Keenan said.
Keenan, Athens-Clarke Police Chief Jack Lumpkin, Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards and Western Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin declined to give more information or answer questions.
“There’s too much at stake here,” Keenan said.
A law enforcement official said Hood contacted authorities and asked to speak with his mother and his attorney. The official said Hood was “agitated” and wary of negotiating with police.
Hood, accused of murder in Tuesday afternoon’s shooting death of Senior Police Officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian, holed up late this afternoon in a home on Boley Drive, police said.
Officers from several police agencies sealed off the area shortly after 4 p.m. and evacuated people from nearby homes while negotiators talked with Hood, who also is accused of wounding Senior Police Officer Tony Howard as the officers were investigating a carjack-kidnapping.
Hood called police to tell them he hoped to negotiate a surrender, and officers traced the call to a home on Boley Drive, which runs between Commerce Road north of the Athens Perimeter to Freeman Drive near Danielsville Road, also just north of the Athens Perimeter.
Officers have surrounded the home while negotiations continue, Athens-Clarke police Maj. Mike Shockley said this evening.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” he said. “Time is on our side.”
Nearly three dozen of schoolchildren spent the afternoon and early evening at Coile Middle School because authorities didn’t allow buses through the sealed-off area around Boley Drive.
School workers contacted parents and gave the children pizzas, said Frank Platt, chief of the Clarke County School District. All were able to get home by 6:30 p.m., schools Superintendent Philip Lanoue.
Police stayed busy all day, speeding from neighborhood to neighborhood all day, chasing leads — including several false leads.
Earlier in the afternoon, police swarmed an East Athens neighborhood, believing they had Hood cornered in a home on Little Oak Street.
However, by 4 p.m. officers got new information and began dispersing from Little Oak Street — which runs parallel to Oak and Oconee streets near Carrs Hill — and began focusing their search elsewhere.
The search shifted from place to place all day, first moving from the vicinity of Hood’s family homestead in eastern Clarke County to northeast Athens this morning, then moving to back to the east side where the Athens-Clarke police’s Strategic Response searched a home on Spring Valley Road about two blocks south of Hood’s parents’ home.
By midafternoon, police surrounded a house on Little Oak Street off Oak Street in East Athens, sealed off the area and conducted another fruitless search.
A new tip later in the afternoon sent police careening back into northside neighborhoods as the intensive manhunt enters its fourth day.
Officers would not say what led them to any particular site or what they found there.
Ever since Hood allegedly killed one officer and wounded another Tuesday, law officers have conducted large-scale searches of the area — around where Hood’s parents live at the corner of Spring Valley and Ranick roads.
Early this morning, police were stopping and checking cars in both directions on Danielsville Road north of the Athens Perimeter.
Investigators also shifted tactics overnight, using Facebook and Twitter postings to assure Hood that he won’t be harmed if he surrenders.
Shortly after midnight, police posted a note on Facebook asking Hood to turn himself in, and about 1 this morning used Twitter to deliver the same message.
On Facebook, police wrote that “Hood Can Arrange to Turn Himself In by Calling 911 or (706) 546-5900.
“Several friends and family members ... have told investigators that Mr. Hood would turn himself in, but he fears that law enforcement will kill him instead of allowing him to turn himself in. This is simply not the case: all of the law enforcement agencies searching for Mr. Hood are trained to use deadly force only in response to life threatening resistance. ... Hood can arrange to turn himself in without fear of bodily harm by simply calling 9-1-1 or 706-546-5900.”
Police continued their fourth day searching for Hood, who is wanted on charges he shot and killed Senior Police Officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian Tuesday afternoon to avoid getting arrested for a carjack-kidnapping he was involved in that day.
Hood also is charged with shooting Senior Police Officer Tony Howard in the face and shoulder as Howard stopped the SUV Hood was in Tuesday. Howard survived and is recovering in the hospital.