JACKSON COUNTY, Ga. - Authorities believe a man wanted for shooting a Banks County deputy Wednesday afternoon is in the Atlanta area.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a woman returned to her Commerce home to find a man fitting the suspect's description. The home is located two miles from where the deputy was shot.
The GBI said the woman was forced at gunpoint to drive the suspect to Atlanta before she dropped him off, and sustained minor injuries.
"He broke into a residence in Commerce, Ga. stole a vehicle, kidnapped a woman, held her a gunpoint
and forced her to drive him somewhere in Atlanta," GBI Public Safety Director Nelly Miles reported.
The shooting happened around 4:10 p.m. at the Atlanta Dragway after a report of robbery in progress. Investigators said the suspect tried to kidnap an employee, but instead ended up taking the victim's car and fleeing the scene. Deputies spotted the vehicle and tried to pull it over in the area of Tanger Outlet Center, but the man took off.
“At some point during the stop, my officer's car hit the suspect's car. The suspect stopped the car, jumped out and started firing at my officers,” said Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed.
Investigators said as the man was running, he fired at law enforcement officers, hitting a deputy who was still in a patrol car. The suspect got away, which prompted a multi-jurisdictional manhunt.
“We have a number of agencies that have come out,” said Lt. Carissa McFadden.
Authorities are searching for a black man in his 20's- 40s with short hair, 6’0” and weighing about 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing dark clothing. Agents say during the kidnapping incident, the suspect took a burgundy, "Ingles" grocery store pullover shirt.
“He is armed and dangerous, we do know that. He has possibly two weapons on him, two guns on him, so we are asking citizens to not approach this male subject,” said Lt. McFadden. “If they do see him, call 911 and immediately report it.”
Authorities said law enforcement officials saturated the outlet mall, immediately securing the area. The suspect was last seen running across Interstate 85 toward Commerce.
"I can tell you if you are driving in a car in this area right now, expect to speak with a Georgia State Trooper because they're stopping everybody that moves through here," GBI Special Agent Mike Ayers said just hours after the incident.
Authorities said the deputy suffered non-life threatening injuries, thanks to his ballistic vest.
“He’s in good shape, doing very well,” said Sheriff Speed. "A fairly new officer, very dedicated officer. It was a blessing that he had his bullet proof vest on and it defeated the round."
The deputy is recovering at the Northeast Georgia Hospital. His name has not yet been released, but Sheriff Speed said the deputy was fairly new, only being on the force for eight months, but has proven to be dedicated.
FOX 5 News stopped by Atlanta Dragway where a couple of employees said they had no comment other than to say they were emotionally shaken, but otherwise OK.
The GBI is asking anyone with information to call 911 immediately. The GBI and FBI have posted a $20,000 reward in this case.