Deputies investigate simulated murder in training event at West Point Lake
Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023
On Friday morning, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office hosted a multi-agency training scenario at R. Shaefer Heard Park on West Point Lake.
The training scenario involved investigating a simulated homicide, recovering the body from the lake and performing a felony traffic stop on the suspect.
Deputies were called to the scene through 911 by witnesses following a script. They were told that gunshots were heard during an argument between a man and a woman with a child. The man was reported leaving the scene alone in a black pickup truck after the argument.
Investigators arrived to find a simulated crime scene complete with fake blood, bullet holes and tracks indicating a body had been dragged into the lake.
While all agencies knew the scenario was just a training exercise, it was treated like the real thing with paramedics, firefighters and even the coroner being called to the scene.
The Columbus Fire Department also participated in the scenario, sending their dive team to recover a dummy serving as the victim along with the gun used in the simulated crime.
Deputy Carrla Querry served as an investigator for the incident after being one of the first to arrive on the scene. Querry was quick to pick up on clues at the scene, but just as important, what wasn’t there.
She quickly noticed there was no indication that a child had been present, which turned out to be correct. The witness had been told to say there was a child when there wasn’t to throw off deputies because witnesses can be unreliable at times.
Querry said the evidence she found indicated they had been drinking. The cooler had been turned over and there were shell casings and blood splatter, so a crime had likely occurred. After finding drag marks toward the lake and searching the shore, the dive team was called in.
In the meantime, a witness called in saying they saw the truck, so a simulated felony stop was performed on the suspect vehicle in a separate scene.
“It’s just a chance for us to work with all of our partners in this area,” TCSO Sgt. Stewart Smith said.
Smith said it’s important to regularly work with dive teams such as the one from the Columbus Fire Department because of the lake.
“We all know there’s a large body of water at West Point Lake and we unfortunately do have drownings that do take place,” he said.
Smith said they had been planning the event for four or five months.
Smith said everyone is being evaluated on all of the different scenes and they will have a debriefing on the scenario next week.
“We’ll have a debriefing and kind of go over everything that took place out here what we can improve on, what went well and what needs tweaking,” Smith said.
Querry said participating in the scenario has been particularly helpful training.
“It gives us the opportunity to remember the things that are important to look for and to communicate with the other officers that you’re relying on and the other agencies,” Querry said. “It’s very good training. It’s a very good refresher.”