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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the death of a 68-year-old Cairo man who died while in custody of law enforcement officers after a standoff at his home Sunday. The G.B.I. identified the victim on Tuesday as Paul Charles Guerrero, 365 Beth Page Road.
Although an autopsy was performed at the G.B.I. Crime Lab on Tuesday, an immediate cause of Guerrero’s death was not determined, according to Jamy Steinberg, special agent in charge with the G.B.I. in Thomasville.
Steinberg states that, “Toxicology testing is pending and any prior medical records will be sought to hopefully aid the medical examiner in determining the cause of death.”
Originally, Grady County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the house because a man was having trouble breathing Sunday afternoon. When they got there, a woman who G.B.I. agents later identified as Guerrero’s niece, was found bleeding from a head wound she had obtained in an assault.
When deputies tried to talk with Guerrero, he had reportedly barricaded himself inside the home. Grady County deputies then asked the Thomas County SWAT Team for assistance, and they took control of the scene, Steinberg states.
Guerrero refused to talk with the SWAT Team members, so they threw tear gas into the home in an attempt to force him out, but Steinberg says that was unsuccessful, and Guerrero even threw a canister back outside at the SWAT team.
The G.B.I. special agent in charge says the SWAT members then used “less lethal weapons” such as sponge rounds, hornet rounds and bean bag rounds, in an attempt to get Guerrero out of the residence.
At some point, SWAT members were able to get to the Grady County man, who allegedly continued to physically resist arrest, but was eventually taken into custody, handcuffed and removed from the house.
“SWAT members noticed the male became unresponsive and attempted to render first aid at the scene,” states a release from the G.B.I. “SWAT medics and local E.M.T.’s who were on scene attempted resuscitation efforts, but they were unsuccessful, and he died at the scene.”
Grady County Sheriff Harry Young asked for the G.B.I. at 5:41 p.m. Sunday to conduct a use of force investigation.