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Assault suspect shot by deputy faces more charges
Officials say Gainesville man swung machete at deputies
Justin Matthew Bennett
Justin Matthew Bennett

A machete-wielding man shot by Hall County deputies faces additional assault charges, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Deputies tried to subdue Justin Bennett, 27, with a stun gun before shooting him Sunday morning, said Sgt. Mark Mitchell, sheriff’s office spokesman.

Bennett had already injured three people when deputies arrived in the 2000 block of Sailors Avenue around 7:10 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

“Investigators determined that Bennett had assaulted three other people as well as breaking into one of the victim’s homes,” Mitchell stated in a news release.

Bennett faces the additional charges of two counts of aggravated assault, one count of burglary in the first degree and one count of aggravated stalking.

He was initially charged with four counts of aggravated assault on peace officers and one count of felony obstruction, stemming from the arrest. Bennett is being held in the Hall County Jail without bond.

Two of the victims were identified as Melissa Ray, 34, and Peaches Shockley, 31. The name of the third victim is being withheld, Mitchell said.

The three victims — one of whom was physically attacked, but not with the machete — suffered injuries that are not life-threatening, Mitchell said.

Mitchell described the scene at Grant Street and Sailors Avenue, near Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway and across from the Chicopee Mill Village community. Bennett lived on Grant Street.

“(Deputies) encountered Bennett in the roadway in front of a mobile home park,” Mitchell said. “Bennett began swinging a machete at the deputies and he continued to swing the machete at deputies as he moved to (the 2100 block of) Grant Street.”

The officers used a Taser three times and a beanbag round that failed to stop Bennett, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

“When Bennett failed to cease his aggressive behavior, an officer was forced to shoot,” officials said.

Bennett was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville with an injury that was not life-threatening. He was treated and released into sheriff’s custody.

Following protocol in any officer-related shooting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

Also, as is customary, the deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the GBI’s investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

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