ATLANTA – Authorities charged a man with murder Friday in the killing of two sheriff’s deputies serving an arrest warrant on another person outside a suburban home near Atlanta.
Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer told reporters at a news conference that the deputies were attempting to arrest a man wanted on theft charges in the driveway of his home Thursday night when another man inside confronted them with a gun.
A shootout ensued when the armed man refused commands to drop his weapon, VanHoozer said, and both deputies were fatally wounded. The shooting suspect and the man with the outstanding warrant were both arrested following a standoff with officers who swarmed the neighborhood.
The two slain deputies were identified Friday as 42-year-old Jonathan Koleski and 38-year-old Marshall Ervin.
“They were outstanding men, men of character and integrity, family men loved by their families and their kids,” Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens told a news conference.
Both men arrested at the scene made initial court appearances Friday afternoon.
Christopher Golden, 30, was charged with two counts of felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault against law enforcement officers. Christopher Cook, 32, wasn't charged in the killings. But he was booked on six outstanding theft charges.
Both men were denied bond. It was not immediately known if they had attorneys.
VanHoozer declined to give specifics of what happened during the standoff that ended with the two men arrested, the home's front door out of its frame and windows broken. He did say there was no more gunfire after the deputies were shot and no other officers were injured.
The sheriff had previously told reporters his deputies had been “ambushed." On Friday afternoon, he deferred questions about the shootings to the county police chief, whose agency is conducting the investigation.
VanHoozer said police had tried to be forthcoming with what they knew during an “unfolding investigation” in which they still had limited information.
Asked if he would call the shootings an ambush, VanHoozer said: “What I’ve just given you are facts. I’m not going to label it."
Sprawling Cobb County, with more than 760,000 people, is just northwest of Atlanta and one of Georgia’s most populous counties.