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Hundreds attend funeral for slain Ga. police officer

Surrounded by other officers, Melissa Christian followed the coffin of her 34-year-old husband after a memorial service yesterday in Athens, Ga. A suspect in the officer’s death is in custody. Surrounded by other officers, Melissa Christian followed the coffin of her 34-year-old husband after a memorial service yesterday in Athens, Ga. A suspect in the officer’s death is in custody. (John Bazemore/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 28, 2011

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ATHENS, Ga. — Hundreds turned out yesterday for the funeral of a Georgia police officer whose killing prompted a dayslong hunt for a suspect who surrendered on live television.

An honor guard lined the streets of Athens as the body of Officer Elmer “Buddy’’ Christian was escorted to the city’s Classic Center.

Police said Jamie Hood, 33, fatally shot Christian on Tuesday, also shooting and seriously wounding Officer Tony Howard.

Tom Smith, the assistant police chief in Athens-Clarke County, said Hood is also suspected in the December slaying of county employee Kenneth Omari Wray.

Tuesday’s shootings happened as officers were seeking Hood in connection with a kidnapping. Smith said the kidnapping victim was connected to Wray but wouldn’t elaborate.

Christian, 34, was married and had two children.

The search for Hood came to a dramatic close Friday night. Authorities said at 11:15 p.m., he walked out of an apartment complex surrounded by five of the nine adults and children that had been held for hours as he negotiated with authorities. No one was hurt.

As Hood was being taken into custody, he told WXIA-TV in a brief videotaped interview, “I regret killing that officer.’’ Hood added, “You know, they killed my brother. They were going to kill me.’’

Hood was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1997 for armed robbery and was released in 2009. In 2001, while Hood was serving time, his 22-year-old brother Timothy Hood was shot and killed by an Athens police officer. Investigators said at the time that Timothy Hood pulled a gun on an officer and was shot when the weapon jammed.

Athens, about 75 miles northeast of Atlanta, is home to the University of Georgia.

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