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Firefighters help man shot in the head

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Shooting suspect nabbed in Monroe County

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    James M. Slater

Witnesses said the victim of a shooting that took place at a Jones County residence Friday afternoon was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The suspected shooter, James Mark Slater, is currently in the Jones County Law Enforcement Center charged with aggravated assault.

A report of the incident by Lt. Wesley Ransom with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department stated that he responded to the call about the shooting at 1:10 p.m., Feb. 12.

Jones County Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Coleman said he was at Fire Station 6 on Upper River Road checking equipment when the call about the shooting was dispatched to the station.

Coleman said Firefighter Ed Barnwell was on duty at the fire station, and they were at first confused at the location of the call. The deputy chief said he called JCSO dispatch and found out the victim was being brought to the fire station and the ambulance was also en route.

Coleman said they went outside as the gunshot victim arrived. He said they brought him inside the fire station to assess his wound and keep him warm until the ambulance arrived. He said Jones County deputies also arrived at the fire station.

Coleman said the victim did have a gunshot wound to the head but was conscious and was able to talk

“We got him packaged up, then the ambulance arrived and took him to Navicent Health Center,” he said.

The chief deputy said the ambulance arrived at the fire station in less than 10 minutes.

The transport of the victim was only part of the story.

Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece posted about the arrest of Slater, the man who allegedly shot the victim, on Facebook that same afternoon.

Reece said deputies were called to the station in response to a medical emergency.

“Two folks had arrived at the station seeking help for their friend, who had just been shot in the head. The personnel of Station 6 did an exceptional job of lifesaving efforts for the victim, who was transported to a local hospital,” he said.

The sheriff said the victim remained in serious condition. He said deputies were able to determine that the incident had occurred at a nearby residence and responded to that scene.

Reece said the investigation revealed that a dispute over alleged stolen property had escalated to physical violence, and a shotgun had been discharged.

“The injured man was not involved in the dispute but was an innocent bystander,” he said.

Reece said the offender had left the scene, but he and the vehicle he was driving were identified.

“An alert deputy of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spotted the suspect on Highway 87, and he was taken into custody without incident,” he said.

The sheriff said Slater is 57 years old and lives in Bibb County. The suspect is currently in the Jones County Jail, charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

“Slater is a convicted felon and faces additional charges related to possession of a firearm. I want to thank all the folks from the participating agencies that kept a tragic situation from escalating to something even worse,” he said.