A Gainesville man may have had a death wish when he was shot by a Georgia State Patrol trooper Monday morning after pulling up to the Cleveland Highway post and firing a high-caliber rifle, authorities said Monday.
“He was saying to the troopers, ‘You guys are going to have to kill me,’” GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said at an afternoon press conference.
Leighton Beaux Marchetta, 21, pulled up in a silver Ford F350 pickup truck at about 8 a.m. to the patrol office at 2000 Cleveland Highway and started firing near the building that houses the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team, said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Keith Canup, troop commander.
The GBI released a recording of a 911 call made to Hall County at the time of the incident.
“It’s state patrol, state patrol,” the caller said. “We’ve got shots fired at the post. Get us some help out here now. We’ve got an active shooter. Get some help. Shots fired, shots fired.”
The caller then hung up.
“The preliminary information is that he fired two shots,” Lang said.
The troopers ran for cover and began ordering Marchetta, who appeared to be drunk, to drop his weapon, GBI officials said.
“He did not comply with the commands and continued to advance toward the troopers,” Lang said.
At that point, Trooper Steve Thompson shot Marchetta, striking him in the right shoulder, Lang said.
“The man fell to the ground and dropped his rifle,” the GBI said in a press release.
Thompson and the second trooper, Jeremy Allison, then approached Marchetta with their weapons drawn and handcuffed him.
Marchetta was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where he was released from the emergency room at 1:45 p.m. Monday, according to hospital officials.
The troopers were not injured. Thompson is being placed on administrative leave “as is routine in this kind of situation,” Canup said.
Bullets from Marchetta’s weapon, later determined to be a Ruger American 30-06 hunting-style rifle, “would have easily penetrated a vest,” Canup said. “Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
“This is a stark reminder of the times in which we live and the things that troopers have to deal with on a daily basis,” he said. “... It’s hard to rationalize the irrational. We’re just glad that everything worked out as it did.”
Marchetta, who was under armed guard at the hospital, was booked into the Hall County Jail at 11:48 p.m. Monday. No bond has been set yet, as it must be set by Superior Court. His first appearance is at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Marchetta was being charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, Lang said.
The investigation is continuing. Troopers blocked Lakeland Drive, the street where Marchetta lives with his parents, Monday morning and afternoon while officials sought a search warrant.
Also related to the investigation is dashcam video and a 911 call concerning a domestic incident outside Hall County.
A passerby to the incident, Tanya Brendle, said she and her husband, James, of North Hall, were driving up on the post when they heard gunshots — actually felt vibrations in their car.
Tanya Brendle said she recalled thinking, “That was something close.”
They weren’t sure what they heard and felt, and didn’t realize the seriousness of the incident, until after they had passed the post and reached Limestone Parkway, she said.
“Police officers starting pouring” by, Tanya Brendle said. “I didn’t see anything ... because I was the one driving.”