Updated – Pastor Jonathan Ayers Killed in Drug Sting
Updated 9/11/09 – The woman who Pastor Ayers gave a ride to on the day he was killed is 18-year-old Kala Jones Barrett from Dalton, GA. Warrants for her arrest list her home as the Relax Inn in Toccoa and that she was wanted for distribution of Cocaine. According to the girl Ayers was just giving her a ride and providing ministerial comfort and advice, which pretty much fits in with everything his friends and family have been saying all along.
Updated 9/3/09 – Before he passed away, Pastor Jonathan Paul Ayers asked paramedics who shot him. The rest of the update is at the bottom of the post.
Original Post – A multi-jurisdictional drug task force set up a sting to take place yesterday in Toccoa and a pastor from the area was inadvertently shot and killed. 29-year-old Jonathan Paul Ayers wasn’t a target in the drug sting and was not connected at all but a passenger riding in his car was.
Ayers dropped off the woman riding with him in downtown Toccoa around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon and two agents from the task force which was made up of officers from Stephens, Habersham and Rabun counties followed Ayers and attempted to question him.
Ayers tried to avoid the officers, striking one of them with his car after putting it in reverse. The officers yelled (according to witnesses as well as their statements) “Police, Stop!”. Ayers car lurched toward the law enforcement officers in a “threatening manner and one of the three agents fired a two shots which struck Ayers in the upper body. He drove off but ended up hitting a telephone pole about a block away. The pastor died at Stephens County Hospital in Toccoa.
The agent struck by Ayer’s vehicle was treated and released from the hospital and all of the agents involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
Ayers lives in Lavonia and was a pastor at Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia. His family says that he was in no way involved in drugs and police did not find any drugs in his possession or in his vehicle.
The woman who was the intended target of the sting was arrested and charged with selling cocaine. Other charges are pending and police aren’t identifying her yet.
A press conference was held earlier today concerning the shooting and Law Enforcement again said that there is no connection between Ayers and drugs. The GBI spokesman did, however, say the following; “It was thought to be the case when it led up to what happened. We later found out there was another circumstance that we cannot get into that led to the incident, not drugs.“
The family of Jonathan Ayers has also released a statement. The following is from WNEG. Check out their site for more information.
A spokesperson for the Floyd-Ayers family issued the following statement […]:
“Jonathan was a good man. He was not involved in drugs. He would help anyone that needed help, give them the shirt off his back. Jonathan would have wanted to witness to the police officers involved in the shooting.
He was so excited about becoming a father and was loved by his family, friends and members of his church.”
The spokesperson told WNEG News that Jonathan Ayers was being incorrectly portrayed as a drug suspect and that he was an innocent bystander.
Update – As I mentioned at the top, prior to dying on Wednesday Jonathan Ayers asked paramedics who shot him according to the AJC. That pretty much fits in with the last comment I made in response to a visitor. Ayers’ actions point to a man who was scared and trying to get out of what looked like an ugly situation. He wasn’t aware that the men were police and even though they did identify themselves, when guys are yelling at you “Stop, Police! Get the fuck out of the car now or we’ll shoot” (just an approximation, I don’t know the exact words they yelled) the only thing one might hear is “get out of the car or I’ll shoot” and that’s if he could hear anything at all with his windows up.
Does that make the police culpable for his death? Friends of Ayers certainly think so. I am on the fence on that one though. It feels like a really big mistake, misunderstanding, mis-communication (albeit one that has cost a man his life). Should police have let him drive off and follow him,perhaps endangering other folks on the road? If he saw police lights behind him he might have pulled over realizing his mistake. It’s a bit late for that though.
The question still remains though, why was the woman who has been arrested for cocaine in his car in the first place? I’m not trying to point at anything here, really want to know. I changed my original post earlier in the evening because there was some snarky language in it that I had not intended that way, so I thought it best just to remove it entirely.