Man coaxed from house after breaking in, attacking former girlfriend

By Peter Failor

VALDOSTA -- Police are declining to classify as a hostage situation a Sunday incident where an armed man barricaded himself in a Valdosta residence with his infant child and an unidentified female before negotiators convinced him to exit the house peacefully.

Mark Holmes, 39, 1402 Southwood Drive, a former Valdosta police officer, was convinced by two former colleagues to give himself up after entering the residence of his former girlfriend and her boyfriend just after noon Sunday on the 1400 block of Jones Avenue.

Holmes attacked the boyfriend, and in the ensuing struggle a bullet fired from Holmes' .38 caliber revolver grazed the boyfriend's skull, according to police. The boyfriend later fled the scene.

Holmes's former girlfriend also reportedly tried to take the gun after being chased through the house. She also fled the scene, leaving Holmes alone in the house with their infant son and another unidentified female, according to police.

"I would call it more of a barricaded subject," said Lt. Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department public information officer.

Holmes and the two victims were reportedly taken to South Georgia Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries sustained in the tussle, Childress said.

Childress said Lt. Don Baldwin, a trained negotiator with the department, and Patrolman Lenfield Bartlett knew Holmes from his time on the force, and convinced him to give himself up after 30 minutes of negotiation.

"Bartlett was talking to him from outside the corner of the house," said Childress, adding Baldwin entered the residence to speak to Holmes. "He gave himself up peacefully."

Childress declined comment on the nature of the negotiations.

Holmes was later booked into the Lowndes County Jail on three charges of aggravated assault, one for the attack on the boyfriend, one under the Family Violence Act for chasing his former girlfriend and threatening her with the gun, and the last for pointing the gun at the unidentified female, according to police.

Additional charges include two counts of cruelty to children, one count of burglary, and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

"The child wasn't injured, thank God, but (Holmes) actually did strike the child," said Childress, explaining the child was struck inadvertently during the scuffle with the boyfriend.

Childress said that police do not consider Sunday's incident a hostage situation because Holmes at no time threatened his infant son. Holmes reportedly pointed the gun at the unidentified woman briefly, but did not shoot.

"He didn't give us any indication that he would harm his child," Childress said. "We're getting the impression that he was upset because the boyfriend was there."

Childress said Holmes had served briefly at the Valdosta Police Department as a patrol officer under then-Chief Charlie Spray in 1990 and 1991. A Lowndes County coroner's jury cleared Holmes in the May 1991 on-duty shooting death of Eric Jerod Mathis, 19, in June 1991.

According to reports, Holmes had responded to a domestic dispute that May, and at the end of a foot chase, Mathis had reportedly charged Holmes with a knife. Holmes fired one shot, striking Mathis in the neck. Mathis died the next day at South Georgia Medical Center.

Although cleared in the shooting, Holmes resigned from the force that same year.

To contact reporter Peter Failor, please call 244-3400, ext. 247.

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