News Articles

Ga. pastor shot, killed by undercover police

TOCCOA, Ga. (BP)–A Georgia Baptist pastor was shot and killed by undercover police officers on Sept. 2, apparently in relation to a drug sting.

Jonathan Ayers, 29, pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Ga., was not the target of the sting, Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Early reports were that Ayers dropped off the sting suspect in downtown Toccoa and that two undercover agents from the task force of officers from Stephens, Habersham, and Rabun counties followed him and attempted to question him.

Ayers used an ATM at a Shell convenience store around 2:30 p.m. and the officers, who were in plain clothes, jumped out of a moving vehicle as Ayers was backing out of the parking lot. The agents reportedly identified themselves and drew their weapons, but the pastor apparently tried to avoid them, putting his car in reverse and striking one of the agents as he backed out. Officers fired, hitting Ayers in the chest.

The officers said they did not know who he was but wanted to question him about the woman, who was suspected of cocaine possession and distribution, according to media reports. Ayers drove off before losing control of the vehicle a block away and hitting a telephone pole. He was taken to a hospital, where he died an hour later.

Ayers and his wife, Abby, were expecting their first child.

A search of Ayers’ car turned up no drugs but the woman was arrested on cocaine charges, according to Examiner.com. WYFF4.com reported the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called to investigate and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. The injured officer was treated and released at a local hospital, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Ayers’ sister, Rebecca Floyd, told WYFF4 that her brother was known to help strangers.

“I could bet my life on it he did not know her,” she said. “I could bet my life on it, because that’s the kind of person he was. He was a good Christian man, and … his goal was to lead souls to Christ.”
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. With additional reporting from other media sources.

    About the Author

  • Joe Westbury