Douglas County suspect caught; schools starting to dismiss

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Schools began to dismiss students around 6:30 p.m. after they stayed several hours past their normal dismissal time while authorities scoured a portion of southwest Douglas County looking for a man they described as armed and dangerous.

The Haralson County Sheriff’s Office said Zachary Ryan Lord, 25, was wanted for shooting at a deputy Tuesday. Investigators said Lord was first spotted around 7 a.m. Tuesday in a car parked in a cemetery in Haralson County.

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Haralson County Sheriff Eddie Mixon said Lord, who was recently released from prison, fled the scene in a very dangerous way.

“He's driving leaning back along the window, shooting at the officer. The officer never fired a shot, never had the opportunity,” said Sheriff Mixon.

The deputy was not injured, but his patrol car was wrecked in the encounter. Jennifer Nicole McDowell, 22, of Douglasville, who was in the car with Lord at the time, was arrested at the scene.

Sheriff Mixon said Lord fled through Paulding and Carroll Counties where he was pursued by deputies but managed to get away. He escaped into Douglas County where schools including South Douglas Elementary were put on lock down.

"They said there was a dangerous person running around and they gave us a code yellow," said Tiffany Wheeler, a student at Douglas Elementary.

Nearly a half dozen schools were placed on lockdown. School officials held students hours past their normal dismissal time at the request of the sheriff’s office. Parents were still able to pick up their children, but those riding buses and walker were held at the schools until the search was over.

In the end, investigators said a young girl spotted Lord near a lake near the Sweetwater Bluff subdivision.

“She was real scared and said she saw a guy and that he was down at the lake. And we sent the canine people down there and they, the canine officer, spotted the guy in a briar patch and he said ‘I give up,’” said Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller.

Lord was taken to WellStar Douglas Hospital where he was medically checked out after complaining of taking “pills”. He was then transferred to the Haralson County Jail where he was booked on aggravated assault among other charges.