Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 18, 2014

Man shoots home invaders

Police battle spike in burglaries

VALDOSTA — Warrants have been issued for the arrest of a Valdosta man who was shot Monday night during a burglary attempt after he allegedly opened fire on a mother and her son.

At 11:02 p.m., Valdosta police responded to a 300 block Emory Street residence in reference to shots fired during a burglary.

“When we got on scene, we were told that there was a family in the home and that two black males kicked in the door,” said Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress. “One was armed with a rifle and the other had a handgun.”

A 56-year-old woman and her 15-year-old son were in the front of the house when the men broke through the door and demanded money. The 59-year-old husband/father was in the back of the house, according to reports.

At some point during the burglary, the son was shot in the leg by one of the offenders. The mother attempted to flee to the back of the house and was shot in the arm, said Childress.

After hearing the commotion and gunfire, the father walked to the front room of the house with a handgun and shot both burglars multiple times. The men fled on foot, according to reports.

“We arrived within a minute or two of the incident,” said Childress. “EMS carried the mother and son to South Georgia Medical Center. The mother and son are going to recover, but the mother had more serious injuries.”

Approximately six minutes after responding to the incident, Valdosta police were dispatched to 2406 Oxford Drive in reference to the report of another shooting incident. Officers found Travis Stewart, 22, with multiple gunshot wounds, reports stated.

Oxford Drive is approximately two blocks west of where the burglary occurred on Emory Street, and officers believed the two incidents were related. Investigators eventually determined that Stewart was actually shot during the Emory Street burglary. Stewart was transported to South Georgia Medical Center for treatment and is recovering, said Childress.

Arrest warrants have been signed for Stewart on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of burglary, reports stated.

The person who called in the alleged Oxford Drive shooting, Walter Williams, 25, was arrested shortly after midnight in the 2400 block of University Drive on an existing warrant for probation violation, reports stated.

“We were notified a short time later of a male in Quitman who indicated that he had been shot in Quitman multiple times,” said Childress. “We spoke to the victim in Quitman, and his statement is not consistent, and he is not cooperating. It’s pretty clear that all three incidents are connected.”

Investigators have recovered one of the weapons used by the offenders in the burglary, and it is being analyzed at the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Lab. Officers continue to investigate the incidents.

The burglary is another incident in a recent spike in home burglaries. So far, at least 35 burglaries have occurred in Valdosta during June. A total of 40 incidents occurred in the entire month of June 2013, according to reports.

“Every year we see a spike in burglaries during the summer. School is out, people go on vacations and the weather plays a role,” said Childress. “That’s why I need people to be our eyes and ears. We cannot be everywhere.”

Despite the increase, Childress said that his department has cleared more burglaries than it had by this time last year and that there have been 47 fewer incidents in the same timeframe.

“We are meeting our goal of trying to lower crime and to solve crime,” said Childress.

To achieve this goal, the department moved to 12-hour shifts to put more officers on the road, created a burglary unit and has worked closely with the South Georgia Regional Commission to develop weekly crime analysis reports with “hot spots” which direct officers to flood high-incident areas when not on other calls. Childress believes these, along with other efforts, have been making a difference.

“In 2000, the city had a base population of 43,724, and in 2012, the census bureau reported a base population of 57,597. So even though the population increased, the overall Part I Crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, auto theft and burglary) in 2013 is lower than it was in 2000. That means crime is going down,” said Childress.

Even though overall crime incidents have declined, Childress believes more community involvement is needed to curb the recent spike in burglaries.

“I am very proud of the work of my officers, detectives and civilians in this department. They are breaking their backs to make Valdosta a safer place,” said Childress. “But I need more help. I need the community to help us more. We need the help of the community to be our eyes and ears. It must be a cooperative effort.”

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