2 U.S. Marshals shot, Georgia fugitive dies at Irmo-area hotel

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 10:18 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – (WIS) Two U.S. Marshals are hurt, and a fugitive is dead after a shootout at a Columbia-area hotel on Friday morning.

U.S. Marshals said 78-year-old George Curtis, who fled the state of Georgia, was wanted on child rape and molestation charges.

When federal officers with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force attempted to arrest him on Friday, they say he shot at them, injuring two.

Both deputies who were shot are in stable condition, according to Karrie Holden, a Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal.

The shootout happened at the Extended Stay America Hotel on Kinley Road.

That is right off Lake Murray Boulevard in the Harbison and Irmo areas of the city of Columbia.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Columbia Police Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the U.S. Marshals all responded to the scene.

The U.S Marshals said after shooting at Marshals, Curtis shot himself.

He was pronounced dead at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Holden said.

During the shootout, one of the doors on the first floor was completely shattered, with glass everywhere.

It has since been boarded up as of Friday evening.

The two federal officers who were shot were transported by Richland County EMS to the hospital, and are expected to be okay.

Curtis was wanted by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta for child rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and two counts of child molestation, Holden said.

Court records show Curtis was set to be tried on September 18 on the child molestation charges.

He failed to appear, and a judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

The search to find Curtis led Marshals to the Extended Stay.

Ryne Cox, a former prosecutor on the Curtis case, said the outcome did not surprise him, given the evidence against Curtis.

If convicted, he would have likely spent the rest of his life in prison, Cox said.

“l don’t think that it’s unforeseeable whatsoever that there be violence and a shootout and a self-inflected gun wound to avoid such a prison sentence,” he said. “It’s something I would almost anticipate in these situations when a person has skipped bail and then are subsequently found by the United States Marshals Office.”

Marcus Thurmond was in his hotel room on the third floor when the chaos happened.

He stays in hotels frequently for work, and has never seen anything like this.

When Thurmond woke up, he saw what he described as a “swarm” of law enforcement vehicles.

He then called the front desk, and someone advised him to stay in his room.

When Thurmond noticed deputies outside his window with guns drawn, he said “that changed the scheme of things drastically.”

“Because then you do have thought of ‘hey, did they enter the building?’ not knowing they were in the building. So yeah, that definitely caught me by surprise, made me a little worried.”

SLED is investigating the officer-involved shooting, as is standard protocol.

WIS News 10 Sunrise airs Monday through Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

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