Rev. Jonathan Ayers The Paster Asked Who Shot Him
By Rhonda Cook
Before he died Wednesday, with bullet wounds to his liver, pastor Jonathan Ayers asked paramedics who shot him.
The rest of the small town of Toccoa and anyone who saw the dramatic convenience store video now knows Ayers was killed by undercover officers in a sting operation.
Ayers’ brother-in-law Matt Carpenter believes these words mean one thing -- that the Lavonia minister did not know he was being approached by law enforcement and that he inadvertently stepped into the middle of their drug investigation.
“I think it scared him,” when the black Cadillac Escalade pulled next to Ayers’ car and two men got out with guns drawn, said Carpenter.
Carpenter said that’s why he tried to speed away.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation is examining the fatal shooting. The two plain-clothes officers -- both members of a northeast Georgia tri-county drug task force -- are on administrative leave.
“I’ve rerun it in my mind,” Carpenter said. “He had used an ATM inside, got into his car and then a black Escalade pulled up and [they] jumped out ... If they ID’d themselves, he couldn’t hear them because his windows were up.”
GBI spokesman John Bankhead said witnesses heard the two men identify themselves as law enforcement officers.
The sheriff also told reporters the agents “yelled, ‘Police. Stop.’ ”
Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley said the shooting came after Ayers hit one of the agents with his car as he backed up. The second one shot Ayers because the 29-year-old minister had maneuvered his car toward him in a “threatening manner,” Shirley said.
Ayers was able to drive away from the Shell station but crashed into a utility pole a short distance away. It was there that Ayers, according to Carpenter, asked paramedics “Who shot me?”
Ayers died later, soon after surgery.
The sheriff said Ayers was not a target of the drug investigation.
The store owner, Joe Joseph, said he didn’t know the agents were law enforcement officers and it looked like they were firing at each other.
While the agents were shooting, a man was pumping gas just a few feet away and there were other people in the parking lot, Joseph said. Another five or six people were inside the store.
“I’m surprised nobody got hurt,” Joseph said.
The agents were assigned to a task force that investigates drug cases in Stephens, Habersham and Rabun Counties. Ayers caught their attention because he was with a woman who twice sold drugs to the officers, said Bankhead.
“What they saw was indicative of drug transaction,” Bankhead said. “They didn’t know the guy. They followed him to the convenience store and tried to arrest him.”
The woman’s name has not been released because she is still being questioned about the shooting. She is being held in the Stephens County Jail on drug charges.
Ayers family believes he was not involved in drugs and they don’t know his connection to the woman.
Carpenter said people often called the Shoal Creek Baptist Church for help.
“She was asking for cash and he brought her some cash to help her out,” Carpenter said. “Jonathan sought to do exactly what God wanted him to do.”
Before going into surgery, Carpenter said Ayers reassured his wife, 16-weeks pregnant with their first child, that he had done nothing wrong.
“He told Abby ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I love you. Take care of yourself,’” Carpenter said. “I think he knew he was going to die. But I think he knows where he was going.”
I'm pretty sure God did not want him to give cash to a drug addict. Any competent clergy will tell you there are some huge rules to the game that are there to protect the clergy from losing his reputation and or life.
Rule number one is never be alone with a woman other than your wife.
Never give rides or cash to drug addicts.
Breaking both those rules at the same time set him up for some unwanted police attention.
From the video and police statements it's easy to see how the cops screwed up.
They don't try to confront the man while he is out of his vehicle. Once he is in his vehicle they could of followed him and perhaps got a marked car to stop him.
They don't have uniforms on either.
So some men dressed in street clothes pull up and jump out and start waving guns. I can't blame him for trying to escape.
Forgive me for calling this one "Cops gone wild" It should be illegal for undercover cops to make an arrest, or stop a vehicle. Just shouting that you are police shouldn't be enough notice. Besides, the guy had his windows rolled up by all accounts.