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Eagle Watch Teen Killed in Standoff

The 16-year-old Etowah High School student, Andrew Messina, held his mother hostage in their Woodstock-area house, authorities say.

Updated: 9:15 a.m.

A 16-year-old boy was killed Tuesday evening in the Eagle Watch subdivision during a standoff with the SWAT team.

A sheriff's sniper fired a single, fatal shot after the teen made a threatening move toward deputies, WSB-TV reported.

"He made a very aggressive move toward the officers that were attempting to negotiate with him," Sheriff Roger Garrison said in an interview aired on WSB.

Classmates from and neighbors in the Towne Lake subdivision were quick to identify the suspect as Andrew Messina on Twitter and send out uplifting messages to his friends and family.

Baily Brim tweeted, "Pray for Andrew Messina & his family tonight. Pronounced dead after being shot. literally in tears. Never know what someone's going through."

Another classmate also confirmed his identity by tweeting he's a sophomore who's new at Etowah.

Barbara Jacoby, spokeswoman for the , released the following statement on behalf of the county:

"The Cherokee County School District is deeply saddened by the loss of one of its students. A 16-year-old Etowah High School sophomore died during a domestic disturbance at his home on May 1, 2012. Additional counselors are on the Etowah HS campus today to assist students in need."

The standoff began several hours earlier when the teen's mother called 911 and said she was being held hostage, WSB reported.

Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the officers arrived at 5:50 p.m. at 921 Laurel Crest Drive to find Messina armed with a .357 Magnum revolver.

The mother was safely out of the house before the shooting, which is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as a standard procedure.

"Negotiators, who had worked their way very close to the front door witnessed the suspect pouring alcohol on the curtains inside the home and heard him threaten to burn the home," Baker said.

Baker said after approximately an hour of negotiations, the suspect either fired his weapon through the glass in the front door or broke the glass with his firearm. This was when the sniper across the street fired a single, fatal shot from his rifle in Messina's abdomen.

Baker said this was "an attempt to protect the negotiators who were within a few feet of the front door".

The firing officer, whose name has not been released, has been placed on routine administrative leave with pay, Baker said.

The Etowah High teenager was transported to Kennestone Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Watch from the shooting.

Woodstock-Towne Lake Patch will have updates when they are available.

Towne Lake Mom May 05, 2012 at 01:48 AM
You do not know what you are talking about. He never held his mother hostage and he did not have to be negotiated into releasing his mother. His mother left the house BEFORE police even arrived and she RELUCTANTLY left at that.
Towne Lake Mom May 05, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Amen.
Towne Lake Mom May 05, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Mike, those are all the same questions that I have. And I would love to see those answered.
Citizen May 05, 2012 at 05:22 AM
I believe as a community we need to stop trying to lay blame to an individual, whether it is a person or entity. After listening to the 911 call it is obvious that the poor mother was in fear when her son pointed the gun at her. I believe it is unfair to judge without all of the facts but it is a right of all citizens of this county to question actions taken by any government entity. If we do not question the things that happen and challenge the outcome we cannot grow as a community. That being said it is highly inappropriate and immoral to place blame without the complete story. That sniper did his job, however distasteful it ended up being. That mother did her job when she could not handle the situation at home. And we are all doing our job as citizens to evaluate whether this is a community we choose to raise our children in. I do not believe police tried to provoke that young man into a confrontation; they likely did what had worked so often in the past. Please consider how your actions/comments affect the rest of our community, a family that is grieving and a police department that is saddened. I cannot imagine how tragic it is for the people who knew and associated with the family but please consider their feelings above your own outrage at the outcome.
Citizen May 05, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Surely you must realize the Sheriff is aware there are video recordings of the incident that could become public knowledge and he would not lie to cover up anything. This is the same man who was forthright about the missteps with the little girl so heinously murdered in Canton. Please be considerate of the torment everyone involved is going through. And if you have video please provide it to the GBI as opposed to bragging about it. That video could make a difference the next time we all have to deal with any situation like this. It is very sad that this has happened in our community please don’t let it tear us apart. Please pray for everyone involved to find peace.
Christine May 05, 2012 at 01:21 PM
No doubt this was an utter tragedy and a horribly sad loss of life. HOWEVER..when and if you choose to brandish a deadly weapon, and wave it around when your house is surrounded by armed police screaming to put the weapon down, then 16 year old or 60 year old, you must be prepared to be shot if you resist or move aggressively. The police officers on the front porch most likely have their own families and children who want to see them come home alive. If you are going to smash out a window pane while the police are standing there, it is difficult for the shooter to discern in that split second if there was a shot fired or the sound of breaking glass was from the butt of the gun. SWAT is trained to protect their fellow officers. If that was your husband standing feet away from an emotionally disturbed teen with a .357 magnum would you hope the officer assigned to protect him would hold off in the face of aggression because the teen just might be a nice kid? How would the death of that officer have been treated if instead he was the one shot? Though tragic that this young man was so emotionally distraught that he chose this course of action, we must hesitate in being so quick to blame the officers. Don't forget either if this boy was to start shooting, bullets can easily travel right through the wall or windows of a neighboring house.
Paul Revere May 06, 2012 at 03:51 AM
The only thing that wreaks of high cover up is that the kid may or may not have fired the gun. If you fired a 357 in your house in Towne Lake and it was not the 4th of July you would have the Garrison Possee banging on your door probably in minutes hell when they built these homes the sound of nail guns wouldn't afford you a mid day nap. A 357 magnum??? That's a hand cannon. Back when I was in law enforcement seeing that it was a child in a family situation in a home some brave cop might have just charged the gun calling bluff...but today's protocol does not allow this Maverick behavior. "charge a gun and run from a knife." The medication tops the list of the behavior. Calling the cops....never a good option, someone is going to jail or getting shot these days. Police are not necessarily to blame they are following the protocol.....protocol needs to be changed more than likely. The police are far to militarized why do they need tanks? That said guns were made for hunting and protecting your family not for killing innocent people and loved ones. I'd pray for the family of the child and the sniper who regardless must live with this tragedy. This is a catch 22, hopefully the GBI performs a thorough and impartial investigation.
Mike W May 06, 2012 at 04:16 PM
But now it is time to ask the questions why all the coverup and miss-Truths. Why is it OK for a Sheriff to distort what happened? It isn't!!! Oh, you will say he was telling the truth when he said "He shot the window out or he broke it with the gun"... Carefully worded Bull... If an entire police force can not make that determination even after they witnessed it, they should not be investigating crime scenes. Why did they make up several other things? All this and all my other posts are just my Opinion based on the 911 recording, information I have read, knowing Andrew and the family, and from people I know that were at the scene.
Mike W May 06, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Police officers should not be shot.. They have families that love their Husbands, Father's, Son's and Daughters. Pretty sure we all get that... Swat's are at a seen when necessary to protect other officers and hostages. We get that. But the police should not have been 10' from the front door! The Swat should never of been on the scene. This was not a Hostage situation as they treated it and told everyone after the fact. To me it seems the situation was made to be how the sheriff department wanted it. It seems they wanted to feel like it was some big "Shootout" and they could use some of this millions of dollars in swat training they have. The sheriff could feel like he was a "Big Time Sheriff". This was not the situation it was, this is the situation they made. Then after they killed the boy they fabricated the pieces of the "STORY" so it sounded justified. Virtually everything reported seems fabricated or exaggerated. The media was just sharing the bad information from the police.
Louis Goehring May 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I would like to clarify the truth about some of the comments made in this forum. We live on the same cul de sac as the Messinas. We have known them since they moved in to the neighborhood, my wife is very close with Andrew’s mother, and my sons grew up with Andrew. Over the years he has been at our house many times. Andrew attended the youth group at our church with my son. Andrew would house sit our pets while we were out of town. We knew him well. I was present at my house and watched the stand off from my window with my wife and son present in the house. I cannot describe the feeling as we heard the sound of the gunshot as we knew this did not end well. First I would like to say that the deputies from the Sheriff’s department were all very professional, they are obviously well trained and well managed. We have lived in Eagle Watch for 20 years and think Sheriff Garrison has done a tremendous job with the department and has reached out to the community. I think I speak for a great many people who appreciate the department and their willingness to risk their well being for our safety.
Louis Goehring May 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
But some “neighbors” have said some disparaging things about this young man and this situation. One “neighbor” in particular has made comments about Andrew’s mental health, specifics about the scene and the events that unfolded that are not based in reality. This individual was not even in his own house when it happened, nor was he close with the family. In fact, I am surprised he is making these comments. His dog mauled Andrew’s dog in an earlier incident and the Messinas had complained to animal control so he apparently still has an axe to grind. I think the message is “those people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. The Andrew I knew never should any violent behavior, nor over the years did we ever see any family argument spill outside the house, and I can never recall any police ever visiting the house. Andrew was always very polite to me and talked to me in a mature way beyond his years. He was obviously bright, but some people may have felt he was a bit precocious. I only recently learned of the bullying that occurred in his school, and some of the comments from his classmates about his girlfriend and his mother who is suffering from cancer would appall everyone. As a parent who is raising three boys we all know they have struggles from time to time. For Andrew these issues spiraled out of control, and he made a tragic mistake and paid the ultimate price for it.
Louis Goehring May 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
But with regards to his mental health, I never considered his personality pathologic. It’s just a tragic occurrence and I cannot even imagine the grief of losing your only child. I think the best thing right now is to let the authorities do their job and review the case. They have done a very professional job so far, and if the family has some concerns about the official review then they can raise further questions at that time. It is really a time we should be healing, but some of these comments are just emotional and not based in fact. For example, Andrew’s mother was never a hostage, she was able to call 911 and leave without assistance. Any comments otherwise are simply to inflame emotions. Please pray for the Messinas, Andrews friends and those officers who had a difficult job who are all grieving over this terrible loss.
David Payton May 07, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Lou, We have NOTHING against the Messina family. We liked Andrew. We hate no one. We have NO 'axe to grind', in spite of the malice and slander being spread about us by our neighbors in the cul de sac. We want no part of the meanness and hatred being spread. I am VERY SORRY for anything we have done to offend, hurt or upset anyone. No dog was 'mauled'. Mr Messina dropped all charges in open court. His dog's skin wan't even broken. He said if had known the call to animal control would have resulted in such drama, he never would have called. We spent over $7,000 on a 5 foot fence over a year ago to keep our dogs from being a problem. I already apologized and will continue to apologize for anything I've said or done that hurt or offended anyone on previous posts. Continued neighborhood slander and malice helps no one. I did repeat what I heard several officers, neighbors and a GBI agent tell me. I had no reason to disbelieve that many people. Again, I apologize for anything I said to hurt or offend anyone. I'd already lost an aunt and a cousin I grew up with in seperate incidents this week as well as the fatal police standoff across the street from my house. Now my angry neighbors are insulting and slandering me on the web. I may have let my emotions get the best of me. I should have thought things through before I posted. I will personally apologize to the Messina's for anything I said in my emotionally agitated state to hurt or offend them.
Dee Locklin May 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
This has been a heart-wrenching tragedy in our community. Like so many of you, I am full of sorrow as well as a whole lot of questions. Tonight, I'm wondering this: Rubber bullets are sometimes used by SWAT teams to end stand-offs. Was that considered on May 1? Depression, emotional, and behavioral issues are so stigmatized in our society. We are simply not prepared to address them effectively. They scare the hell out of us. And teens die every day as a result. I posted additional thoughts on my blog. Read "Innocence Lost" if interested: http://deelocklin.blogspot.com/2012/05/innocence-lost.html
Dee Locklin May 08, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Cindy, It is not unusual for loved ones of a family member with depression or behavioral issues to try to hide the problem. Our society shuns families with any kind of dysfunction. And that's doubly true in peaceful little golf communities like Eagle Watch (I live here and love it, but social ostracism is very real). On the surface, it does seem odd that a mother would be concerned about attracting the attention of neighbors, but the 911 tape sounds like Andy had behavioral outbursts in the past, and they came to nothing. Perhaps the mom was hoping the situation would diffuse on its own. It's hard to second guess a parent that has to deal with these very difficult circumstances.
Robert Atkinson May 08, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Lets see. Parents raise a kid who in the end, holds his mother hostage, and points a gun at negotiators. The swat team acted appropriately. The only blame here goes to the parents who did such a wonderful job of raising him.
David Payton May 08, 2012 at 07:04 AM
I profusely apologize for my misinformed remarks. Emotions ran high and I believed what I was told by authorities and neighbors. I have learned a huge lesson about keeping my emotional rants to myself until I know the facts. Andrew never held his mother hostage. He was apparently not even bipolar. I was told he was a drug dealer too, which I did NOT believe. I am SO sorry for running my mouth, and inadvertently hurting people who are already in umimaginable pain.
Mike W May 08, 2012 at 07:20 PM
David, I would like to say I am sorry to hear about all the tragedy you are currently experiencing. I hope you don't have any uninformed people spreading things about your loved ones. The things that you said people were giving extra credence because where you live and that they thought you witnessed what had happened. When you were spreading things that were not true (weather you believed it yourself or not) many people believed them and then commented and then more people commented. The Messina's do not deserve this. I hope everyone can learn from this.
David Payton May 09, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Believe me. I have learned huge lessons from all this. I just spent an hour or so in the Messina's home. We both aplogozed profusely. We are now on better terms with the Messinas than when we first moved in. Now if the rest of the neighbors can give the same grace, we'll all start fresh. God's mercies are new every morning. People are sadly often a different story.
Mike W May 09, 2012 at 10:56 AM
David, I am sure that was difficult to go knock on their door. I would also think that once you did, the Messina's made it pretty easy from there. They really are very good people.
DEE May 09, 2012 at 01:56 PM
This is a terrible tragedy and my teen daughters had met the young man when they attended middle school together. They remember him as a very nice young fellow. I cannot fathom what his poor loved ones are going through. Authorities use tranquilizer guns and non-lethal tools to subdue animals and other living beings when they are out of control or a threat/danger to people. WHY are we such a gun-happy nation??? Why did the authorities provoke the young man by coming so close to him (right next to the door), instead of doing something to subdue him? Why shoot him in the abdomen instead of in a leg or a non-lethal area? When people are chemically-imbalanced they often cannot think rationally. Does this warrant killing them? Especially a troubled child? The news reports say no one else was in the home. The mother was safely outside. The kid could have been tranquilized by a sniper and no lives would have been lost, and he could have been treated for his chemical imbalance and had a future. Write to your local, State and National authorities and suggest that we replace lethal weapons with tranquilizing tools.
Louis Goehring May 09, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Absolutely David. It is really awesome that you showed contrition and settled on showing love for your neighbor in this time of tragedy. It says a lot. You are always welcome to be around us
Rico May 27, 2012 at 02:34 PM
First, why did negotiators leave cover placing themselves in or almost in the line of fire. When you are dealing with bullets you don't have to be directly in a gun sight to be in the line of fire. Second, the department has a semi armored vehicle (Bearcat) that could have rolled up to the front door and knocked it down. Third, alcohol on curtains and tear gas does not have to mean an explosion. If you know what you are doing lob the gas through the back and it does it's intended job. Fourth, the mother was out of the house and not in harms way. Does a troubled teen busting a glass with a gun and not pointing/firing constitute deadly force? Fifth, if it is true that negotiators told the teen to get off the phone with his father as this was hendering their efforts this is very disturbing. Now, for any knee jerks no I was not there. But the sniper who has used his weapon on a previous occasion was. I hope he made the right decision. There are many questions yet to be asked and answered. For those who get so emotional about this, that is the process.
Cindy June 20, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Andy was not bi-polar. Andy's parents were and are still devoted attentive parents. Andy's mother was not held hostage, she left the home on her own free will. One day the Messinas will be able to tell their story and speak of their son.
sheep dog June 22, 2012 at 11:06 PM
http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/5432704-Idaho-police-share-use-of-force-video/ If anyone is interested, this video shows the reality of deadly force situations.
Rico June 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM
A compelling video that speaks to me personally however, every situation is different. When time IS on your side taking what might be considered brave but foolish risks to bring a quick end to a complicated situation seldom ends well.
BigPorty June 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM
It is possible that the young man holding his own mother hostage might be somewhat resposible for his own demise. All this could have easily been avoided if he had simply: A. Not taken his mother hostage or B. stood down when the police arrived. Sure, the police could have used alternative methods, and probably should have. But the didn't go seeking Andrew out, his actions created the situation. To put this on the head on the Police officer that was trying to protect his fellow officers from what he believed to be a dangerous situation is clearly not taking into account the chain of events that put him there in the first place.
Towne Lake Mom June 27, 2012 at 05:43 PM
BigPorty, Andrew in fact did NOT hold his mother hostage.This was falsely reported by the CCSD and later corrected. Andrew's mother left the home of her own free will and even told the 9-1-1 dispatcher this. Andrew's mother was waiting outside the home, when the police arrived at the home.
Will Krokey June 27, 2012 at 05:48 PM
exactly. At least there are still some people who know how to use common sense when analyzing a situation.
N.obody June 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Please...stop and think before typing. You clearly have no clue what you are talking about. Tranquilizer darts? This is not Hollywood.

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