A senior corrections officer at a Georgia prison was murdered early Tuesday morning, shot dead in the parking lot of the facility where he worked.
According to reports, Scott Riner, 59, had just arrived for work at the Gwinnett Correctional Center, about an hour northeast of Atlanta, around 6:20 a.m. when he had an interaction with an unidentified “individual” in the parking lot. The exact nature and the length of the interaction are currently unknown, but reports indicate that the individual eventually shot Riner and fled the scene on foot. Riner died at the scene almost immediately, even before other officers could come and render medical assistance.
“The best that we can tell at this time is that the victim was involved in some kind of a confrontation or interaction with another individual here in the parking lot and that that individual did shoot him,” said Gwinnett Police Department’s Sgt. Jennifer Richter.
Though police, always eager to defend and honor the memory of one of their own, have made the investigation an immediate priority, they have released little information about the shooting thus far. They are currently looking for information from anyone who may have been “in the area of Hi Hope Road and Swanson Drive, including Hurricane Shoals Road, Swanson, and Georgia 316 between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning,” FOX 5 Atlanta reports. They are particularly interested in “dash cam footage” from that timeframe.
Police have also released a grainy video of the suspect in the hopes that a viewer will be able to give a positive identification:
While detectives continue to pursue the suspect, others in blue have shared fond memories of their fallen brother, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather who had worked at GCC for a decade.
“It’s easy to come in and be negative and be unhappy, but that’s not who he was,” recalled Cpt. Audrey Henderson of the Gwinnett County Department of Corrections. “[He was] just dedicated, always had a funny story to tell, always talking about his family.”
Henderson added that Riner was such a “fair” and affable guy that even the inmates couldn’t help but respect him.
“If you’re an inmate, you don’t want to like officers,” she said, “but because he treated inmates fair — he did what he was supposed to do — they even liked him.”
Henderson added that Riner was part of the law enforcement “family” who will be deeply missed.
“My prayers really go out to his family,” she said. “I want his family to know that he was our family as well, and we are going to get through this together.”
For now, police consider Riner’s death “a very active investigation” and insist that they “are following up on leads,” Richter claimed.