‘God’s grace:’ Police captain describes surviving shootout with suspect at Clayton Co. gas station

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Clayton County police captain faced machine gun fire at a gas station after he spotted and confronted a suspect.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne talked to Capt. Steve Long about the encounter, which unfolded at a Valero gas station on Riverdale Road on March 28. NewsChopper 2 was over the scene, where a man lay dead in the parking lot after police said he opened fire on them.

Long said he spotted suspect Robert Prince’s black Crown Victoria pass the home where Prince had allegedly held his wife captive overnight and sexually assaulted her.

When Prince and Long stopped their cars, Long asked Prince to put his hands on the steering wheel. Instead, Prince opened fire with a modified machine gun.

“It was a Glock with a switch on it that made it a fully automatic weapon,” Long said. “We were close enough that I could see multiple casings coming out of the top of the weapon and I thought, ‘What is he shooting me with?’ Second thought was, ‘I don’t have my vest on.’”

Long said he prides himself on having never shot a suspect before in his 27-year career and hoped he could make it to retirement without encountering a situation like that, but he’s glad he survived.

“(I thought) ‘If I can make it a full 32 years without having to do that, it would be a blessing,’” Long said. “Mr. Prince had a decision that day. I’ve always prided myself on going home to my family at the end of the day. And I went home at the end of the day.”

Long said his training and experience, including 11 years on the SWAT team, told him he had to move and find cover. He said Sgt. Casey Fausel saw what was happening from the road and pulled in to help.

“It was terrifying. I watched his engagement and I just knew that I needed to get there as quickly as I could,” Fausel said.

Long and Fausel both took cover behind her patrol car and Prince cut loose with another round of heavy fire.

“A lot of times, when we’re engaged with these things, people try to run and hide from us.” Fausel said. “But we were being pursued.”

The captain said he had to protect his sergeant who had come to his aid and citizens in the parking lot. He also didn’t want Prince to escape to a nearby neighborhood.

Long said Prince reloaded once, then took cover near some gas pumps.

“I told myself, ‘This has got to stop. If not, I’m looking at death,’” Long said. “I come up from behind the car. I shot two rounds.”

Prince died at the scene. Long said that when he shot Prince, he believed he was advancing toward him and Fausel.

Long said he wears his bulletproof vest on calls now, but something else covered him that day.

“A lot of people throughout my life have prayed for me,” Long said. “God rest my mom’s soul, she prayed endless days and nights for me and my brother (who is) also in law enforcement.” God’s grace is the reason I’m able to sit here and have this discussion with you right now.”

Fausel, who is a mother of four, said she’s blessed to be alive.

Long said he had no choice but to shoot Prince and that he prays Prince’s family finds peace.

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