A gun was discharged a single time inside a McDonough dentist’s office early Thursday, leaving a Henry County police officer critically injured and another man dead, officials said.
The officer, identified as Michael Smith, was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the face, police spokesman Capt. Joey Smith told AJC.com.
The GBI was called in to investigate the shooting at Smile Creators Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in the 300 block of Jonesboro Road.
GBI spokeswoman Natalie Ammons said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that a man, identified as 53-year-old Dimaggio McNelly of McDonough, drove a red van to the business just after 8 a.m. and caused a “disturbance.”
Ammons said McNelly did not have an appointment; employees did not know who he was or why he was there.
“Something was unusual about this gentleman that scared them enough that they called police,” Joey Smith said.
After the officer arrived, they spoke for a while and McNelly became combative, Ammons said. Officer Smith used a Taser on him more than once, but it “proved ineffective,” Ammons said.
Then, McNelly lunged at the officer, she said. At some point during the commotion, one shot was fired, evidence suggests.
“With that one shot, both the officer and the subject were struck,” Ammons said.
Investigators are looking into who pulled the trigger. The GBI did not say where McNelly was struck or how the one bullet hit both men.
Hours after the shooting, as crews set up police tape and investigated the scene, McNelly’s red van remained parked outside the office. Officials were later seen removing a small dog from the van.
It is not known if the man was armed with his own gun; Ammons said investigators did not recover a weapon. It is possible the gun was the officer’s service weapon, Joey Smith said.
He said earlier Thursday that the officer had gone into surgery after being shot. Michael Smith started working for the police department in 2011.
Charmaine Stallworth said she was the first customer of the day at the dentist’s office and was filling out paperwork when McNelly walked in, according to Channel 2 Action News.
Stallworth said the man wrote a note and asked to see a doctor, before trying to push past the workers while making threats.
“I grabbed my stuff, my son, I told him to run,” Stallworth told the news station. “I knew we needed to go.”
This was the second shooting involving a Henry County police officer and a dentist’s office. In 2016, a man was fatally shot behind a Hampton dentist’s office after confronting his ex-wife, who worked there. The officer was not injured.
The Thursday morning incident was the 84th officer-involved shooting in Georgia this year, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. In 2017, there were 88 officer-involved shootings.
OVER THE LINE: An investigation into police shootings in Georgia