Police arrest suspect in murder of Gwinnett County correctional officer

Police have arrested a suspect in the deadly shooting of a Gwinnett County correctional officer.

Police said officers arrested 22-year-old Dacula man Yahya Abdulkadir for the murder of Senior Correctional Officer Scott Riner. 

Police and SWAT team took Abdulkadir in custody without incident around 1:30 p.m. at the Black Dot Cultural Center, Bookstore, & Coffee Bar off Main Street in Lithonia. Police say the team had tracked him for several hours before the arrest.

"The suspect was only in the business for a matter of minutes and order a bottle of water before the police arrested him. We had never seen him before," Black Dot owner Kazemde remarked.

He's charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. No word on if trespassing charges will be added.

The shooting happened early Tuesday morning at the Gwinnett County Jail, officials said.

Wednesday, investigators released an image of a suspect taken from surveillance footage in the shooting that featured the man's profile in the hopes someone would recognize him and call police. Investigators say Abdulkadir was the person seen in surveillance video released later that same day.

"We do believe he is the same person we have seen," said Gwinnett County Police Sgt. Jennifer Richter.

According to investigators, Riner got into some sort of altercation with the man after he arrived at the Gwinnett County Jail. At some point during the confrontation, the man shot Riner and fled the scene. Gwinnett Police released surveillance video of the suspect, saying the video shows the suspect was in the area for an extended period of time before the shooting.

Police say they may never know a motive behind the deadly shooting.

"It doesn’t appear that the officer and Mr. Abdulkadir knew each other, but as we go further in this investigation, that could change," said Sgt. Richter.

Investigators believe Abdulkadir acted alone in the Officer Riner’s murder.

They hope the arrest brings some comfort to Officer Riner’s family.

"[Detectives] have been working on this non-stop," said Sgt. Richter.

Who was Officer Scott Riner?

Scott Riner was an employee at the correctional facility for around 10 years.

Officials described the officer as a father and grandfather who was respected and well liked by both guards and prisoners at the facility.

"My prayers really go out to his family. I want his family to know that he was our family as well, and we are going to get through this together," said Captain Audrey Henderson, who worked with Riner. 

Henderson said Riner had a great personality and was well-liked by his co-workers and inmates.

As they search for his killer, Riner's law enforcement family mourn the death of one of their own.

"Anytime we lose one of our own it is extremely difficult, extremely emotional but what the police department is going to do is to help him and honor his memory and his family is to work this case as hard as we can and to catch the person that did this," Sgt. Jennifer Richter with the Gwinnett Police Department said.

The family of Officer Riner released a statement following the arrest that reads:

"On behalf of the entire family of Senior Corrections Officer Scott Riner, thank you to everyone who has sent their love, well wishes, and prayers to our family during this horrific time. Today, Scott's alleged killer was arrested and we fully believe that justice will be rightfully served. While we are all still grappling with the loss of someone we loved so dearly, we can now begin to properly grieve knowing that Scott's alleged killer is behind bars.

"Also, a very big thank you to the Gwinnett County Police Department for their tireless efforts in bringing this case to a close. We also want to thank the media for their diligent coverage in getting the message out to find his killer along with their compassionate stories of his work. We were, and still are, so very proud of the pride he put into his job to make everyday a little better for everyone."