GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Authorities confirm the man accused of killing a Gwinnett County police officer is dead.
Police had been searching for 18-year-old Tafahree Maynard for nearly two days after the cold-blooded shooting death of 30-year-old Officer Antwan Toney. The deadly shooting, which happened Saturday afternoon, prompted a massive manhunt for Maynard.
Late Monday morning, dozens of police officers rushed to an address off of Mistletoe Lane after receiving a tip, and police quickly put up crime scene tape to block off the area. According to police, about 75 to 90 officers responded to the area.
Officers went door to door in the neighborhood and found Maynard in a closed wooden shed outside one of the homes. Police said they gave verbal commands, which the suspect ignored.
According to police, Maynard wouldn't show police his hands, then officers saw he was holding a lawnmower blade. Police say he made an "aggressive move" toward the officers. That's when police opened fire, striking Maynard, who died at the scene.
Video from Sky FOX 5 showed investigators focusing on the shed behind the home, with crime scene tape around the perimeter.
“We are relieved that the manhunt is over and the threat to the community resolved," Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that Maynard did not surrender or turn himself in peacefully, but his actions forced the officer’s response. With the manhunt over, we can now focus on remembering and honoring Officer Antwan Toney.”
Maynard was found less than two miles from the home where his family lives.
"The danger to the community is over," police said at a news conference early Monday afternoon.
It all started just after 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the Gwinnett County Dispatch Center received an anonymous phone call to 911 stating there was a car parked in the area of Crumps Landing Road and White Road, just behind Shiloh Middle School. The caller believed the people inside were smoking marijuana.
Two officers, driving in separate patrol cars, pulled up to the suspicious vehicle and parked their cars. Moments after the officers stepped out, a series of shots were fired at them through the glass of the suspicious car.
Officer Toney was hit. Police said the bullet missed his vest and struck him directly. He was rushed to Gwinnett County Medical Center in Lawrenceville where he died.
In the chaos, the second officer, whose name has not yet been released, returned fire and was able to safely pull Officer Toney from the line of fire. That second officer did not receive any significant injuries.
Police said the man behind the wheel and behind the trigger was Maynard, who drove the car away from the school. Police said he ended up crashing about a mile from the school into the decorative median at the entrance to a neighborhood located along Ross Road at Calumet Farm Lane. Officers were not in active pursuit of the vehicle at the time, according to police. Witnesses told police four people jumped out of the car and ran.
A massive manhunt was launched for the shooter. Several nearby neighborhoods were placed on virtual lockdown and police officers raced up and down streets, saturating the area with both patrol and specialized tactical teams. Police said they also searched using aerial surveillance.
Tips poured in from around the area. Police said they worked to clear most of those in the search area through the command post they set up near the shooting scene. The SWAT team, K-9 team, and other specialized units checked out those tips, cleared nearby buildings and scoured the woods where the four suspects could be hiding. Within hours, police had set up a specialized tip line for people to call in their information.
About a half hour after the deadly shooting, police found someone. Police said 19-year-old Isaiah Pretlow of Snellville pointed a gun at an officer who was actively searching the area. Police said the officer fired at Pretlow, but he was not wounded. He fled into a wooded area and was not seen again until 11:30 p.m. Saturday when the U.S. Marshal’s Office caught up with him and took him into custody. Police were able to initially put out Pretlow’s description based on his encounter with the officer.
Police did not go into details about Pretlow’s arrest, how they were able to find him, identify him, or take him into custody. Investigators also were tight-lipped on how they were able to name Maynard as a suspect.
Investigators did, however, indicate both had prior records. According to the Gwinnett County Clerk of Court’s website, Maynard was arrested in January for theft and marijuana possession and Pretlow was arrested in May for burglary. Both court cases were still working their way through the legal process.
Gwinnett County Police said they have received an outpouring of support from every metro Atlanta agency, which they said they appreciate. The DeKalb County Police Department was actively assisting their officers in the search and several other agencies offered additional resources if needed.
A memorial for the fallen officer is in place in front of Gwinnett County Police Department Headquarters for anyone who wants to pay respects in person. A public vigil to honor Toney will be held Monday night at 7:30 at Gwinnett Church in Sugar Hill.
The police department said they will be asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the officer-involved shooting.