Fort Valley police 'shaken' after officer named as suspect in murder-suicide

Leaders of the Fort Valley Police Department say they’re shocked and saddened by the fact that one of their reserve officers carried out a murder-suicide in DeKalb County. 

"We at the Fort Valley Police Department continue to be shocked, angered, and deeply saddened about the tragic incident that occurred last Friday in DeKalb County," Fort Valley Police Chief D.J. Flores said.

He says the Middle Georgia law enforcement agency is still trying to wrap its head around the fact that one of their own is the suspect in a murder-suicide.

"We'll continue to try and come to grips and try to make sense of all the selfish and senseless acts of violence that have shaken us to our very core," Flores said.  

DeKalb County Police say Michael Durieux shot and killed 37-year-old Christian Chestnut off Rainbow Drive on Friday before shooting and killing himself. Police found him in a car on Candler Road close to the original scene. DeKalb investigators have not released a motive yet. 

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DeKalb County police block off a section of Candler Road south of I-20 for a shooting investigation on June 7, 2024.  (FOX 5)

Flores said the shooting did not involve the Fort Valley Police Department and called it a "domestic issue."  

"We await the final report, although I know there will be no report that will ever ease the pain of how incomprehensible this action was," Flores said. 

Flores says Durieux worked as a police officer for the city of Talbotton and Georgia State University before joining FVPD’s reserve unit in October of last year. 

That unit consists of part-time volunteer officers who help out at community functions and act as backup when FVPD gets stretched thin. 

Major Antonius Evans is the head of the unit. 

"When we have community events, the officers come down and volunteer their time," Evans said. 

Durieux was a sergeant with the unit. 

Michael Durieux (Forest Park Police Department)

FOX 5 asked Evans if there was any indication that Durieux would carry out such a violent act. 

"Of course not. If there had been any indication at all, any indication, there would have definitely been some form of intervention that would have occurred," Evans said. 

Evans says he and Durieux became friends while serving together in the unit, which makes this all the more shocking to him. 

"It's totally shocking and out of character … he was always a jovial, class-clown type of guy who was always happy," Evans said.  

Police focusing on mental health policies after deadly shooting

Flores says it just goes to show that there may be mental health difficulties and crises that aren’t visible and officers’ mental health must be a priority. 

FOX 5 asked him how he plans to address that among his ranks. 

"Currently I am in contact with a mental health professional, and we're starting to develop some protocols and some policy for the officers here at the Fort Valley Police Department … unfortunately, it's one life too late," he said. 

Flores went on to say that they hope to establish an "early warning system." 

"We're doing everything in our power to try to prevent this from happening again … If we start detecting things such as life trouble, financial issues, things like that, where we can identify those problematic issues, and we can address it as quickly as we can," he said. 

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