First Atlanta-area officer to be killed since 2008
CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS, Ga. â€” People come to Chattahoochee Hills to escape the urban encroachment and anger.
Yet on Monday, even this idyllic countryside setting southwest of Atlanta couldn’t provide a safe haven for one of its own peace-keepers. After traveling down a dirt road shortly after noon, police Lt. Mike Vogt was ambushed and fatally shot by someone using a high-powered weapon, turning tranquility into a den of police activity.
“We will be turning up the heat and trying to find the perpetrators of this horrific crime,” said Col. Jeff Holmes of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
Vogt, whose age was unavailable, was the first Chattahoochee Hills officer killed in the line of duty. It was a 14-man department in operation a short time. He was the first Atlanta-area law enforcement figure fatally shot in a working capacity since 2008, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., Web site.
A manhunt involving several police agencies was seeking two to three men riding in a late 1980s brown Chrysler. A blue pickup truck with a ladder in the back also might have been involved, police said.
People in the area reported hearing several gunshots. Vogt was pulled from his vehicle on Vernon Grove Road near Hutcheson Ferry Road, possibly with a head wound, but police would not confirm their fellow officer’s injuries. He apparently was able to drive his car in reverse 50 yards and send a radio call for help after he was shot. It was unclear whether he was able to return fire. Vogt died shortly after he was airlifted by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Patrol cars from several jurisdictions cruised the back roads around the crime scene throughout the afternoon. Fulton County police officers and sheriff’s deputies and units from Coweta County, the city of Palmetto and the Georgia State Patrol were among those on the scene. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation likely will assume the lead role in the investigation, Holmes said.
Vogt’s slaying was a huge blow for the new city, which was cobbled together by landowners in the area with a bucolic vision: Stave off the encroaching suburban-style development while preserving their farms and woodlands. Chattahoochee Hills was created by referendum in 2007, becoming Fulton’s 14th municipality with fewer than 3,000 residents scattered over 33,000 acres of rural countryside along Fulton’s southern and western borders.
Vogt was a perfect fit for this rural backdrop. For several years, he was an investigator for USF&G, an insurance company, using his skills in a manner comparable to law enforcement. He eventually doubled up as a reserve investigator for the Union City Police Department since at least 1990.
“He was very personable and a good investigator and good interviewer,” said George Louth, Union City police spokesman.
When the insurance company started downsizing in 2007, Vogt was one of the first hired by the new Chattahoochee Hills Police Department. He rose quickly through the ranks and recently was promoted to lieutenant. He still drove patrol.
“It’s obvious from the emotions at the scene that a lot of people from the responding departments knew him,” Holmes said.
Vogt’s family members contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution declined comment or said they were instructed not to speak with media.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to call the Fulton County dispatch center at 404-730-7955.