Byron community mourns loss of sergeant after shooting

Byron United Methodist Church Pastor Tom Carruth said that church staff prayed for first responders Monday morning in a meeting and that the community is tight-knit / Matt Thielke (WGXA)

BYRON, Ga. -- A Middle Georgia community is reeling Monday after the loss of one of their law enforcement officers in a shooting Sunday evening.

Sgt. Patrick Sondron of the Peach County Sheriff's Office was shot and killed at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday when he and Dep. Daryl Smallwood responded to a dispute between neighbors on Hardison Road near Byron.

Smallwood was also shot and as of Monday morning is listed in critical condition at a Macon hospital.

Monday morning, the flags at the Byron Police and Fire Departments were being flown at half-staff in Sondron's honor.

A small memorial was also started overnight at the Peach County Sheriff's Office. A candle, bouquet of flowers and card to Sondron's family were left outside of the building.

A few citizens left a blue and black wreath outside of the Peach County Law Enforcement Center on Monday morning as well. They said the Peach County community is very close and supportive.

Byron United Methodist Church Pastor Tom Carruth said that church staff prayed for first responders and their families Monday morning in a meeting. He said the entire Byron community is a tight-knit one.

Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation continued their work overnight to investigate the shooting. Several GBI vehicles and members were still on scene Monday morning.

One suspect, Ralph Stanley Elrod, was shot at least one time in the abdomen during the shooting incident, according to the GBI. He was taken to a Macon hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is in custody.

Special Agent J.T. Ricketson with the GBI said Monday that authorities have already identified more then 50 shell casings that can be attributed to Elrod's gun.

Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-02) released a statement Monday regarding the shooting, offering condolences to Sondron's family:

“My deepest condolences go out to the family of the Peach County deputy, Patrick Sondon [sic], who lost his life Sunday while serving his community," Bishop's statement reads. "Deputy Sondon [sic] was shot and killed while responding to a dispute between neighbors. A second Peach County deputy was wounded in the same incident and remains in critical condition.

Officers from the Peach County Sheriff’s Office, and from all of our law enforcement agencies across the region and country, put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect our communities. We should never take for granted the risk taken by our first responders and we should respect their sacrifices and those of their families. My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this tragic event, and I pray for the full recovery of the wounded deputy.”

Sondron's family will hold a visitation on Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Southside Baptist in Warner Robins. His funeral will be Thursday at 10 a.m. at the church. Sondron will be laid to rest at Magnolia Park Cemetery.

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