Police officers dressed as gangbangers shot and killed a northeast Georgia pastor Tuesday as he was trying to drive away from a convenience store.
Jonathan Paul Ayers, 28, had been the pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Livonia for about a year before the fatal shooting. That day, police said, Ayers was seen engaging in an apparent drug transaction with, and then dropping off, a woman who was under surveillance by a northeast Georgia tri-county drug task force. The woman was later arrested on cocaine charges, but no drugs were found on Ayers or in his car.
Surveillance video from the Shell station in Toccoa where the shooting took place shows Ayers coming inside to use the ATM and then, as he is trying to drive out of the parking lot, a Cadillac Escalade attempts to box him in, while what appear to be gangbangers jump out of the SUV and point guns at him. Ayers reverses direction and tries to get around the vehicle, and one of the gangbangers runs into the vehicle’s path and is apparently struck lightly. At this point Ayers puts the car in drive again and the gangbangers start shooting at Ayers.
“He was struggling with the agents. He got back into the car, put the car in drive and started driving toward the other agent who fired two shots in to the automobile,” Stephens County sheriff Randy Shirley told WSB radio. But the store surveillance video shows Ayers was already driving away when what appeared to be gangbangers arrived and blocked his car.
Later it would be learned that the gangbangers were undercover police officers, something store owner Joe Joseph said he didn’t know when he heard the gunshots.
“I saw the first gunshot outside,” he said. “And I was looking outside, I saw a red Honda car backing up — backed up where the air machine is and stopped … I thought they were shooting each other. I didn’t know they were undercover agents. There was nothing marked.”
They shot two more times (after) the second shot, he took off,” Joseph said. “I think whatever they’ve done is wrong because in a business place and the daytime.” — WYFF-TV
“I had a parking lot full of people,” Joseph told WNEG-TV. “I mean they could have blown up one of my pumps and that would have been a total mess.”
Ayers reportedly crashed into a utility pole a short distance away and was taken to the hospital.
“Who shot me?” he asked EMTs who responded.
Ayers’ brother-in-law, Matt Carpenter, says that this means he did not know the gangbangers were also undercover police officers.
“I think it scared him,” when the black Cadillac Escalade pulled next to Ayers’ car and two men got out with guns drawn, said Carpenter.
Carpenter said that’s why he tried to speed away. . . .
“I’ve rerun it in my mind,” Carpenter said. “He had used an ATM inside, got into his car and then a black Escalade pulled up and [they] jumped out . . . If they ID’d themselves, he couldn’t hear them because his windows were up.” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Cadillac Escalade is popular among gangbangers of both the ordinary criminal variety and the police variety.
“They deserve punishment,” said Ayers’ sister, Rebecca Floyd. “They deserve to feel somewhat of the pain we’re feeling, because I can’t get my brother back he’s gone forever.”
Floyd said there’s no way her younger brother would have run if he would have known the men who had guns were officers. The officers were undercover and weren’t in uniform, but investigators said they had badges around their necks and clearly identified themselves.
“I think anyone in that situation would run,” Floyd said. “I know I would. If someone pulled up to me with guns, I would run.”
She said her brother was known to help strangers.
“I could bet my life on it he did not know her,” she said. “I could bet my life on it, because that’s the kind of person he was. He was a good Christian man, and that was his goal was to lead souls to Christ.” — WYFF-TV
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into the shooting. The two gangbangers, who were not named, are on paid vacation until the investigation is complete.
I can tell you now what the results of the investigation will be. Despite the fact that statements by the sheriff are contradicted by the surveillance video, the investigation will find that the officers followed “proper procedures” and will not be subject to any sort of justice. Police procedures generally allow for shooting at the driver of a car which strikes an officer, which explains why one of the officers ran himself into its way.
Though these police officers will not likely face justice in this life, there is always the next.
Ayers is survived by his wife Abby, who is 16 weeks pregnant.
Jonathan Ayers is the latest victim of Richard Nixon’s long-running, unwinnable, immoral “War on Drugs.” By making illegal things which have no business being illegal in the first place, it has undermined the Constitution and the rule of law itself, turned millions of honest people into “criminals,” caused thousands of innocent people to lose their money, cars and even homes, without ever being charged with a crime, and resulted in countless deaths of innocent people. It has wrought destruction on our society to a scale unequaled by any other U.S. government program.
Ayers showed us by example what we should be doing: minister to those in need, instead of throwing them in cages at taxpayer expense and allowing innocent Americans to get caught in the crossfire. It’s time to end the War on Drugs before any more innocent people lose their cars, their homes or their lives.