A white Army veteran ambushed a Georgia State Police post earlier this week, opened fire on troopers, dared them to kill him – and was captured with a shoulder wound.
The incident, which took place Monday in Gainesville, stands in sharp contrast to recent police shootings of unarmed black suspects across the country.
Investigators said 21-year-old Leighton Marchetta was intoxicated when he drove to the state police post about 8 a.m. Monday and fired at two troopers with a high-power hunting rifle capable of penetrating a bulletproof vest.
“He was saying something to the effect of, ‘You guys are going to have to kill me,’” said Sherry Lang, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Marchetta then charged toward the troopers, Steve Thompson and Jeremy Allison, who took cover and fired two shots – wounding the gunman in the shoulder.
Authorities used a helicopter and Hall County SWAT team to secure the area and take Marchetta into custody a short time later.
The post commander praised the troopers’ actions during the incident.
“Being presented with the situation that they were in, both of them did very well and reverted back to their (active shooter) training,” said Sgt. Richard Harper, of Georgia State Police. “They both went for cover ... and gave the verbal commands for the subject to drop the weapon.”
Marchetta appeared Tuesday in court on two counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer.
Lee Marchetta said his son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was discharged from the Army in June 2014 after an attempted suicide.
The elder Marchetta said his son drank a fifth of vodka Sunday night because he was distraught by an Army buddy’s suicide and woke up in the morning with no memory of his argumentative and combative behavior.
He said his son was still upset but had calmed down when he drove away, but he wasn’t aware the younger man had taken a rifle with him.
He thanked state police for the restraint they showed during the shooting incident, and he strongly criticized the Veterans Administration for continued delays over mental health treatment.
“It is a shame that it came to this in order for him to even possibly begin to receive treatment from the VA for his PTSD,” Lee Marchetta said.
Watch dashboard camera footage of the shooting posted online by WDUN-TV: