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Officer to be buried in Clayton County

By Aisha I. Jefferson

Three men arrested Wednesday in connection with a wireless store burglary in Stockbridge will make their first court appearance this morning.

Later this afternoon, there will be a public viewing for Charles Haist, the Henry County police officer who died in a car wreck while responding to the burglary call.

In the meantime, the district attorney's office is deciding whether the men can be held accountable for Haist's death.

Police responded to an alarm call at Premiere Wireless Solutions on Eagle's Landing Parkway in Stockbridge early Wednesday morning, and, upon arriving at the scene, they discovered a burglary in progress.

Stacey Lamar Seaborn, 18, of Atlanta; Bruce Austin, 18, of Riverdale; and Deangelo Terrod Myers, 19, of College Park were arrested at the scene. All of the men face burglary and two counts of aggravated assault charges. Myers and Austin also are charged with one count of marijuana possession.

The three men are also suspects in a similar robbery that took place prior to Wednesday's chase, according to Henry County Police.

A number of cell phones and a cash box were recovered in the suspects' vehicle and links them to another burglary that occurred just prior to the Premiere Wireless incident at the Nextel store at Tanger Outlet Mall in Locust Grove.

Haist, 32, wrecked while en route to assist officers on the burglary call early Wednesday morning. He died on the way to Henry Medical Center, Henry County Police said.

The Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision and Reconstruction Team returned Thursday to investigate possible causes behind the accident. They worked around a memorial of dozens of flowers set around a white cross. Eleven Georgia State Patrol and Henry County Bureau of Police Services police cruisers were parked on the median as the far right eastbound lane of Ga. Highway 20/81 was shutdown for 90 minutes while the investigation took place.

"It'll be several months (before they'll know what caused the accident)," Georgia State Patrol Trooper First Class Larry Schnall said. "It's a slow, meticulous process to ensure no clue is overlooked."

Schnall said the GSP Team is made up of highly trained accident reconstruction experts. He said each vehicle's speed and crush factors can be determined.

Haist's police cruiser and Jackie Johnson's green Dodge pickup collided at about 5:10 a.m. Wednesday in the eastbound lane of Ga. Highway 20/81 near Interstate 75, Schnall said.

Haist's cruiser came to rest upside-down on the lawn of Taco Bell. Johnson's pickup ended up in the eastbound lanes facing the police cruiser.

Johnson, a 59-year-old Locust Grove resident, sustained minimal injuries and has no pending charges, Schnall said.

"Whether responding to an emergency situation or routinely driving, the potential to be involved in a crash is a strong possibility," Schnall said.

Henry County Police Chief Russell Abernathy said morale is good with his department and they're coping with Haist's loss.

"He paid the supreme sacrifice doing what he believed in and doing what he was dedicated to," Abernathy said.

Haist, who was divorced, had two daughters, Lauren April, 11, and Kaitlin Aleece, 9. He grew up in Forest Park and joined the Henry County Police department two-and-a-half years ago.

Haist is the second police officer killed in the line of duty in the last two years. Sgt. Jimmy Gilbert, 41, died in a traffic accident May 2 when he rear-ended a truck parked off the northbound lanes of Interstate 75.

Public viewing for Charles Haist will be from 1 to 3 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Haisten Funeral Home, at 1745 S. Zack Hinton Parkway in McDonough. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Salem Baptist Church, at 1724 Highway 155 in McDonough. Following the service, a procession will take place to the burial site at Forest Hill Memorial Gardens at 722 Conley Road in Forest Park.

Haist's family has set up a trust fund at the Georgia Federal Credit Union at 105 North Park Trail, Suite 100, in Stockbridge. Checks can be make payable to the Georgia Federal Credit Union, attention "Charles Haist Memorial Fund."