TO THE COMMUNITY:
Around midnight, Sept. 6/7, the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office experienced the nightmare scenario that every sheriff dreads: “a deputy has been shot.” A lookout had been received for a trailer stolen from Hamilton County, Tennessee, which resulted in two Whitfield County deputies stopping the vehicle/trailer on Interstate 75 near the Whitfield County/Gordon County Line.
The driver of the vehicle, subsequently identified as one Dalton Lee Potter (of Texas), viciously and without provocation shot Deputy Sheriff Darrell “Chip” Hackney. Deputy Hackney was struck in his body armor, which undoubtedly spared him more serious injury and quite possibly saved his life. Deputy Hackney and his partner, Deputy Adrian Gomez, both returned fire as the suspect vehicle sped away. A short chase ensued before the suspect vehicle crashed on 1-75 just south of West Nance Springs overpass, even closer to the county line.
Potter and his accomplice, subsequently identified as Jonathan Hosmer (already a fugitive from Texas), fled into the heavy undergrowth of the woods in the Carbondale/Resaca area.
Along with officers from other state and local law enforcement agencies, my deputies and I responded to the shooting scene. An intensive manhunt then ensued which was continued on a “24/7” basis which continued almost three days. Deputies from Whitfield and Gordon swarmed into the area aided by federal, state, and other local officers. Round-the-clock patrols and checkpoints were maintained on all the roadways. The State Patrol Aviation Unit searched from the air and K9 tracking teams and officers mounted on ATV’s searched the ground.
Most of the terrain was steep, rugged, heavily overgrown, and/or swampy. Hot and humid conditions, typical of Georgia summer, persisted throughout, draining the officers burdened with heavy gear of strength. Fortunately, Potter’s accomplice Jonathan Hosmer was arrested by Whitfield County deputies near Carbondale Tuesday morning.
The manhunt continued unabated, throughout a very large area of South Whitfield County/North Gordon County until Wednesday afternoon. At about 4:30 p.m., 911 calls were received that a man had been shot at a Cline Road address. The investigation revealed that a local citizen, Mr. Eddie Cloer, was going about his business in his own yard when the fugitive Potter, again in a most cowardly and unprovoked manner, shot Mr. Cloer in the back a number of times. Mr. Cloer, himself armed, was able to return fire, wounding Potter in the head. Potter fled to another home and invaded it before returning to a hiding place in the woods. Suffering greatly from his injuries, Mr. Cloer managed to call for help and report the incident to authorities before collapsing.
Over 175 peace officers from at least 26 different jurisdictions poured into the area as the search for Potter intensified. The GSP helicopter returned to the air as officers created a tight cordon which stretched for several miles through the vicinity of Hyde Road, Midway Road, Cline Road, and Bandy Lake Road. K9 and ground teams took to the woods as officers continued to arrive to help. Darkness fell and the search became even more intensive. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Potter was located hiding in a swampy, overgrown area near Bandy Lake by a team of officers acting in support of a K9 Unit.
Without the advantage of surprise and deception, Potter did not resist the officers and was apprehended peacefully. He is now residing along with his accomplice in the Whitfield County Jail, charged with the shooting of Deputy Hackney and a host of other offenses. Warrants have also been issued here in Gordon County charging Potter with the assault against Mr. Cloer and a variety of other crimes.
l apologize to the ordinary people in the Carbondale and Resaca areas for the disruption of their lives on a holiday weekend, but our actions, though inconvenient, were necessary and we had your best interests at heart. Each of you are the reason we serve. Heartfelt thanks to all of the citizens of both counties who gave us leads and information, you are our eyes and ears.
I would like to commend Mr. Cloer for his personal bravery, and add that his actions were not only heroic, but substantially aided in Potter’s apprehension.
I also want to personally thank and commend each and every peace officer, local state and federal, involved in the arduous manhunt for a criminal considered “armed and very dangerous.” It takes a special person to go into dark woods to hunt down a vicious criminal with no regard for laws or lives. I recognize and praise your bravery. The concern and dedication you displayed and your rapid, unquestioning response in the face of danger speaks well of each of you, reflecting brightly on your respective agencies. I specially realize the valor above the call of duty of Deputy Sheriffs Hackney and Gomez, as well as the individual heroism of Mr. Eddie Cloer.
I also want to thank all of fire/rescue, emergency management, and emergency medical personnel who worked so tirelessly in support of this operation. You all are a credit to public service. A special thanks to Chief Tony Pyle and the Calhoun Police who not only provided officers on the ground but answered 911 calls countywide to assist my office.
The assistance rendered and the level of cooperation between so many agencies was both overwhelming and humbling.
Lastly, thanks and congratulations to my own staff. It is an honor to lead you in the service of Gordon County.
I apologize in advance if I have overlooked any agency, entity, business, or individual who played a role in all of this. Individually you know the part you played and the service you provided.
Thank you most sincerely, and God Bless you all:
♦ Sheriff Scott Chitwood and the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Gary Langley and the Murray County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Mark Schrader and the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Clark Milsap and the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Steve Wilson and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office
♦ Sheriff Butch Conway and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office (stand by)
♦ Sheriff Terry Langley and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office (stand by)
♦ Calhoun Police
♦ Fairmount Police Dalton Police
♦ White Police Tunnel Hill Police
♦ Lafayette Police Cohutta Police
♦ Chatsworth Police Floyd County Police
♦ Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force
♦ United States Federal Bureau of Investigation/FBI Aviation Unit
♦ United States Marshals Service
♦ Georgia State Patrol/GSP SWAT/ GSP Aviation
♦ Georgia Bureau of Investigation
♦ Georgia Department of Corrections/DOC K9s
♦ Georgia Department of Community Supervision
♦ Georgia Department of Homeland Security
♦ Georgia Department of Natural Resources
♦ Georgia Communications Authority
♦ Hamilton County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office
♦ Rhea County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office
♦ Real County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office
♦ The Texas Rangers
♦ Gordon County Sheriff’s Auxiliary
♦ Whitfield County EMA
♦ Gordon County EMA
♦ Whitfield County E911
♦ Gordon County E911
♦ Catoosa County EMA
♦ Whitfield County Fire Department
♦ Gordon County Fire/Rescue
♦ Gordon County EMS
♦ Hamilton EMS
♦ Whitfield County Buildings and Grounds
♦ Whitfield County Public Works
♦ City of Chattanooga Mobile Communications Services
♦ Chaz Acree Family
♦ Mckee Foods
♦ Bob’s Wrecker Service
♦ Chick-Fil-A (Dalton)
♦ Chick-Fil-A (Calhoun)
♦ Jerusalem Grille
♦ Big John’s Treat Shoppe
♦ Circle K (Carbondale)
♦ Dr. Jeff Richmond, Animal Hospital (stand by)
♦ Dr. Mike Wilson, AOSM (stand by)
Most gratefully and sincerely, and on behalf of Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood, Whitfield County,
Sheriff Mitch Ralston