TOCCOA, Ga. — A Georgia Baptist pastor was shot and killed
by undercover police officers on Sept. 2, apparently in relation to a drug
Jonathan Ayers, 29, pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in
Lavonia, Ga., was not the target of the sting, Stephens County Sheriff Randy
Shirley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Early reports were that Ayers dropped off the sting suspect
in downtown Toccoa and that two undercover agents from the task force of
officers from Stephens, Habersham, and Rabun counties followed him and
attempted to question him.
Ayers used an ATM at a Shell convenience store around 2:30
p.m. and the officers, who were in plain clothes, jumped out of a moving
vehicle as Ayers was backing out of the parking lot. The agents reportedly
identified themselves and drew their weapons, but the pastor apparently tried
to avoid them, putting his car in reverse and striking one of the agents as he
backed out. Officers fired, hitting Ayers in the chest.
The officers said they did not know who he was but wanted to
question him about the woman, who was suspected of cocaine possession and
distribution, according to media reports. Ayers drove off before losing control
of the vehicle a block away and hitting a telephone pole. He was taken to a
hospital, where he died an hour later.
Ayers and his wife, Abby, were expecting their first child.
A search of Ayers’ car turned up no drugs but the woman was
arrested on cocaine charges, according to Examiner.com. WYFF4.com reported the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called to investigate and the officers
involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome
of the investigation. The injured officer was treated and released at a local
hospital, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Ayers’ sister, Rebecca Floyd, told WYFF4 that 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 … his goal was to lead souls to Christ.”