MARIETTA, Ga. – A Georgia state trooper was shot and a driver who led him on a chase in suburban Atlanta was fatally wounded in an exchange of gunfire Wednesday, authorities said.
Trooper Jacob Fields was patrolling Interstate 75 southbound in Cobb County shortly after 3:30 p.m. when he saw a black Chevrolet Silverado speeding, Georgia State Patrol spokesman Capt. Mark Perry said. Fields recorded the pickup truck going 98 mph and when he tried to pull the Silverado over, the driver fled, Perry said.
The driver was 26-year-old Israel Vladimir Rodriguez of Acworth, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman Scott Dutton said.
Fields chased the Silverado for about 10 miles with two other troopers joining in to try to execute a “box-in manoeuvr,” in which they try to bring it to a slow stop, Perry said. Before they could complete that, the Silverado hit a civilian vehicle and came to a stop.
Rodriguez got out of the truck holding a handgun and began shooting at the troopers; Fields and two other troopers returned fire, Perry said.
Fields was shot in the leg and abdomen just below his vest and above his gun belt, and Rodriguez was hit multiple times in the abdomen area, Perry said.
Rodriguez underwent surgery but died at a hospital around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dutton said. He would have faced a number of charges, including aggravated assault on a police officer.
The GSP said Fields, a three-year veteran, underwent surgery Wednesday evening and was expected to make a full recovery. He was expected to remain in the hospital for two or three days.
Perry didn’t speak to Fields but said he heard the trooper speaking to his family.
“He sounded very lucid, very awake, very alert, and he was very coherent and speaking, explaining what happened,” Perry said.
All three troopers who exchanged fire with Rodriguez were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure.
Marietta Police spokeswoman Brittany Wallace said the shooting caused all but two lanes of the busy highway to shut down.
The southbound lanes were completely blocked off for several hours with numerous police cars, firetrucks and an ambulance parked at the scene. Police diverted traffic off I-75 heading south to clear the way for the investigation.
Dutton said the GBI is investigating at the request of the State Patrol.
Associated Press writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Atlanta contributed to this report.
© 2016 The Canadian Press