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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating Thursday’s shooting death of former Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur. The veteran officer was at the city police department’s gun range on Wight Road Thursday when he was shot and killed. Whether his death was intentional or accidental remains an open question as a G.B.I. medical examiner continues to conduct tests.
“A G.B.I. Medical Examiner has completed an autopsy on Keith Sandefur,” states Nelly Miles, public affairs director for the G.B.I. “Sandefur‘s cause of death is a result of a single gunshot wound. The official manner of death is pending additional tests. The GBI investigation remains active and ongoing.”
Sandefur was reportedly at the gun range with a friend around 1:30 p.m. Thursday when the shooting happened.
Earlier this month, Sandefur resigned his post after the G.B.I. arrested him on two felony counts of theft by conversion. The police department is currently under the leadership of interim chief Giovannie Santos. A search for a permanent chief will begin next month, according to Cairo’s city manager, Chris Addleton.
Grady County Sheriff Harry Young says law enforcement is grieving the loss of Sandefur, who had worked at the police department since April 12, 1980 and had served as chief since Dec. 12, 1995.
“It’s horrible. It’s the worst thing we’ve had in this county in a long time,” said Sheriff Young. “He was probably the best police chief we’ve ever had. He was an asset to Grady County and Cairo. We worked good together. If I needed help he was there, and if he needed help I was there. It’s heartbreaking.”
Sandefur’s funeral took place Monday at 11 a.m. at Family Worship Center. Active pall bearers were Rick Kines, Brian Hayes, Chris Addleton, Bill Elkins, Lance Willis, Bill Schafer and Chris Kines. Employees of the City of Cairo and Cairo Police Department were asked to serve as honorary pallbearers.
The probe into Sandefur’s death is under the direction of the G.B.I.’s office in Sylvester. “The Sylvester office is investigating his death because the Thomasville office already had a separate investigation on Sandefur,” explained Miles.
The Thomasville office of the G.B.I. is the one that was investigating Sandefur’s alleged use of city funds to purchase items for personal use. Sources familiar with the case told The Messenger that the money was used to buy firearms which were then given to a civilian associate of Sandefur’s. The G.B.I. has since recovered the items.
Sandefur turned himself in at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Dec. 3, where he posted bond and was released. He then met with Addleton and retired from his post, effective Jan. 1.
Sandefur leaves behind a wife, Joye, three adult daughters and three adult sons.
A complete obituary for Chief Sandefur is published on Page A7 of this newspaper.