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Police officer recovering after shooting

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County Police Officer Yolanda Shumaker is recovering at home after being wounded by a gunman Friday when she responded to a domestic-violence call.

Police Chief Jeff Turner said her bullet-proof vest probably saved her life.

"Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls an officer can respond to," Turner said Monday. "Thank God she was wearing her vest. Had it not been for her vest, she probably would have been killed."

Around 10:40 p.m., Friday, Shumaker was dispatched to the BP gas station at 11205 Tara Blvd., to meet a with a woman who had complained of a domestic disturbance, according to Police Spokesperson Lt. Rebecca Brown.

Shumaker followed the complainant to her residence at 1258 Pebble Beach Lane in Hampton, so the woman could pick up some personal belongings, according to Turner.

When the officer and the woman entered the home, police said, a male at the residence, Gerald Lewis Benn, 45, allegedly said, "You think I'm playing a [expletive] game." He then allegedly fired two shots at Officer Shumaker. One bullet struck the officer's vest and the other passed through her jacket without striking the officer, Lt. Brown said.

"The round that hit her vest did cause some physical damage to her upper torso," Brown said. "She still needs surgery and will be recuperating at home for a while."

Shumaker has worked with the Clayton County Police Department since June, 2007, according to Brown.

"She [Shumaker] did an excellent job managing the crisis," Turner said. "Even though she had been shot, she was able to make sure both of the other victims fled the house, and [she] made it back to her car. She put distance between herself and the gunman and was able to put out information on the suspect," he said.

"Ninety percent of the time, we always send two officers to every domestic call," Turner said. "Sometimes, we do dispatch only one ... when we're busy," he said.

After allegedly shooting the officer with a .357 revolver, Benn fled the scene in a vehicle and was caught by police on Highway 54, just inside Fayette County, according to authorities.

Chief Turner commended the officers who apprehended the suspect without further incident. "They ended up [using a stun gun on him], but they could have ended up shooting him," he said.

According to Turner, Benn had a .357 revolver and a shotgun on the front seat of his car when police caught up with him. He is being held in the Clayton County Jail, charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, obstruction, fleeing and eluding, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Domestic violence charges are pending.

Judge Robert Dolph denied bond for Benn on the aggravated assault charge, during a first-appearance hearing in Clayton County Magistrate Court Sunday morning, according to Sgt. Sonja Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Clayton County Sheriff's Department.

The judge, however, did set bonds of $10,000 each on the three remaining charges, she said. Benn is not eligible to be released, however, due to the charge in which bond was denied, according to Sanchez.

She said Benn will have a preliminary hearing in magistrate court on March 12, at 3 p.m.