The home invasion/armed robbery suspect who died during an Oct. 4 officer-involved shooting in Statesboro died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to preliminary autopsy reports.
Shots were fired by a Statesboro police officer, Adam Paquette, but evidence shows neither of the two shots he fired struck the suspect, Olajuwon James of Hinesville, said Bahan Rich, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge of the Statesboro Region 5 office.
James, 21, was one of possibly three suspects involved in a home invasion-style armed robbery at the Campus Evolution Villages apartment complex, 1699 Statesboro Place Circle, around 1:08 a.m. Oct. 4, according to statements released by Statesboro Police Deputy Chief Rob Bryan, interim chief.
Statesboro police officers, along with deputies and officers from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Southern University Police Department, began to search the area for the three suspects after receiving a description from the victims, he said. However, during a press conference Wednesday morning at Statesboro City Hall, he said the presence of a third suspect is still yet unconfirmed.
Police apprehended Akeem Rashad Milton of East Oglethorpe Highway in Midway, while at the same time other officers were pursuing James, he said. Milton, 25r, was arrested and later charged with armed robbery; two counts of aggravated assault; possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime; possession of a firearm while a convicted felon, and giving false information to an officer.
James hid between cars in the area and evaded officers for "possibly over 45 minutes," Bryan said. At one point officers attempted to subdue him with a Taser, but that attempt failed and James fled again.
Then, Officer Paquette encountered James and "saw a gun," Rich said. Paquette then "fired two rounds," which never struck James, who fired the self-inflicted gunshot wound. The wound was to the right temple, he said.
Bryan said Paquette remains on administrative leave until the investigation is complete, and will return to active duty after his mental and psychological needs regarding the traumatic encounter are met.
Paquette is "doing as well as can be expected, considering what he has gone through, witnessing what he witnessed," he said.
Rich, who said the officers were not wearing body cameras, told those at the press conference that all evidence and findings from the investigation, once completed, will "be turned over to the (Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office) upon completion.
The Statesboro Police Department will continue the armed robbery and home invasion investigation, he said.
Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore also spoke at the press conference.
"You never want something like this to happen in your community," she said. "Yesterday was not a good day. I think we all realize this. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the young man who took his life."
Rich said final autopsy reports, including toxicology reports, are not yet complete.
Regarding social media commentary about the incident, Rich urged "anyone with legitimate information" to contact either the Statesboro Region 5 GBI office at (912) 871-1121 or the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911.