By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Funeral preparations are under way as the Clayton County law enforcement community prepares to bury its second fallen officer in less than two years.
Clayton County police Officer Sean Louis Callahan, 24, was shot in the line of duty Monday afternoon and died about 14 hours later. Outgoing Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said Callahan had been with the department about four months. Bell said he visited Callahan’s family Monday night and pledged “the county will support them in any way they need.”
Chairman-elect Jeff Turner, who will take office in January, said a recent string of officer-involved shootings was building to such an event.
“It was only a matter of time before one of our guys was shot and killed,” said Turner, who was the county’s police chief from 2007 until 2009.
The alleged shooter was also killed when officers returned fire. Tremaine Lynn Lebis, 41, of McDonough was on parole, having been released from state prison in May after serving 15 years. At least two Clayton sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting, investigators Josh Waites and Jimmy Black. Both were with Clayton sheriff’s Deputy Rick Daly when he was gunned down during a July 20, 2011, traffic stop and were honored as heroes.
Chief Deputy Garland Watkins said Callahan’s death reopened those wounds.
“The hardest thing to deal with is this opened up wounds that haven’t healed yet,” said Watkins. “It brings up what happened with Deputy Daly at a time when everyone should be rejoicing Christmas. It brings everything into focus.”
Watkins said Waites and Black are OK and so are the radio dispatchers who had to monitor the event miles away at the 911 center.
When Daly died, the police department stepped in to help provide manpower while deputies grieved. The tables have turned, said Watkins.
“We know what they’re going through,” he said. “We’re there for them. We’re in this together and they know they have our support for whatever they need.”
Watkins agreed with Turner.
“It’s been a real hard year in law enforcement,” he said. “That’s why we stress training, training, training. Training is what you revert back to.”
Watkins said the most recent information he has is the visitation for Callahan’s service will be Thursday followed by his funeral on Friday.
However, he has no details on where or what time the services will be held.
“We’ll be handling the 911 calls so they can go through their grieving process and bury one of their own,” he said. “And we’ll handle any traffic issues.”