A suspect was shot to death and a sheriff's deputy was injured after an hour-long standoff near an elementary school in north Georgia Monday, authorities said.
Lula Elementary was locked down after a witness saw a man with a handgun walking on a street that runs behind the school. An off-duty officer was called to the scene. The man pointed a gun at him then fled, Hall County Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.
The man then barricaded himself inside his home — an RV camper — a few blocks from the school. A SWAT team was sent to the scene. Sargent said "several" shots were fired but he did not know who fired first.
The injured deputy, who was not identified, was undergoing surgery Monday afternoon at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta with a gunshot wound in his arm. The injury is not life threatening, Sargent said.
The suspect died from a gunshot wound shortly after arriving at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Sargent said. Hospital officials identified him as 65-year-old Herbert Tate.
Lula Mayor Milton Turner, 47, said he has known Tate all his life. He said he was surprised by Monday's events, but said Tate had always "acted funny," and was paranoid that the federal government and other people were "out to get him."
The mayor said that Tate, who was not employed, was very religious and recently told Turner that "the Lord called him to go on a mission."
Tate had been stumbling around in the street before the first officer arrived, said Mae Stewart, who saw him on her way into work at Lula Pharmacy near the school.
"He couldn't walk straight," the cashier said. "He just fell down, then he got up, picked up his gun and started walking again."
Sargent says authorities do not believe Tate intended to harm the school.
"There was no indication the person was headed to the school," he said standing near the scene of the shootout.
The lockdown at the 550-student school was lifted early Monday afternoon.
Hall County schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said the students were not told why the school was locked down and were kept calm during the incident.
"Overall, the situation was handled well, and I am relieved everyone is safe," Higgins said.
Students have only been in class there for a few days; the school year began in Hall County on Thursday.