ATLANTA (AP) — Investigators were awaiting military records and autopsy results Monday to help explain why a National Guardsman allegedly gunned down a sheriff's deputy and then killed himself on the side of a highway in Georgia.
Officials said Spc. Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, was firing gunshots at passing cars moments before the off-duty deputy pulled over to investigate a suspicious car on the side of the road early Sunday.
Hodges and Richmond County Deputy James Paugh, 47, were found dead on the side of Bobby Jones Expressway after 1 a.m. Sunday.
Investigators were "waiting to get some information from the military about the soldier's military experiences," Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Gay said Monday.
A funeral service was planned for 11 a.m. Thursday for the deputy at First Baptist Church of Augusta.
"We're set up for more than 1,000," Gay said. "We know that people are coming from all over Georgia and from throughout the United States."
Gay said his department has been flooded with emails and notes from well-wishers.
One of them, from a doctor in Ohio, said the deputy "is a true hero" and expressed hope that his family finds some comfort.
"I hope the fact that he is being honored by so many brings them some comfort in this time of loss," the note stated. "May they feel comfort and love from across the nation."
"It's very hard to read some of these without getting emotional because this is certainly a trying time for us," Gay said.
Hodges served in the Tennessee National Guard but was on temporary duty at Georgia's Fort Gordon for training, said Buz Yarnell, a spokesman for the military post. Yarnell said he was not aware of any problems with Hodges before the shooting and he would not say if Hodges had previously been deployed in combat.
"On behalf of the Fort Gordon community, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the death of Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy James Paugh," Fort Gordon's commander, Maj. Gen Alan R. Lynn, said in a statement.
"While restricted in much of what we can say because of the ongoing investigation, we are extremely distressed in knowing that a Fort Gordon student soldier was involved in this tragic incident," he said.
Authorities said Hodges had been having some sort of dispute with a female on the side of the road, though it does not appear Paugh knew about that when he pulled up on his motorcycle. The deputy was on his way home from working at the sheriff's department.
The woman was questioned by law officers as a witness and is not facing any charges, Gay said.