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GBI: Suspect tried to drown trooper before being shot, killed
Three troopers also injured and second suspect taken to jail
Epitacio Gudino-Almazan
Epitacio Gudino-Almazan

A weekend Hall County police chase ended with a suspect killed by Georgia State Patrol as he tried to drown a trooper, authorities said.

The chase, which also resulted in another suspect being taken to jail and two other troopers being injured, began after a Ford Explorer driven by Rodrigo Guardiola, 36, of Gainesville, fled a road check at 8:25 p.m. Saturday on Ga. 53, just south of Interstate 985.

Troopers began pursuing the car, following the vehicle to I-985, then onto Queen City Parkway and back toward Gainesville.

“Troopers boxed in the vehicle to stop the pursuit, which resulted in a collision,” states a press release from Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident.

The pursuit ended near Industrial Boulevard, authorities have said.

Guardiola and his passenger, Epitacio Gudino-Almazan, 31, also from the Gainesville area, then ran from the vehicle, according to the GBI.

“As one of the pursuing troopers caught up to Guardiola at a run-off creek, a struggle ensued at which point Guardiola was fighting the trooper and attempting to submerge him underwater,” the GBI said.

Two additional troopers arrived on the scene.

“The trooper that was submerged and beaten fired his Taser at Guardiola with no effective impact, at which point the trooper fired his pistol striking and killing Guardiola,” according to the release.

Gudino-Almazan was captured nearby about 45 minutes later and taken to the Hall County Jail.

GBI spokesman Scott Dutton said it was not known why Guardiola and Gudino-Almazan ran and that neither was wanted by authorities.

The troopers were taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening, and they have since been released.

Gudino-Almazan has been charged with possession of an open container and two counts of obstruction of an officer, according to his arrest report.

“The GBI will conduct an independent investigation to determine what occurred during the incident,” states the press release. “When the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the district attorney’s office for review.”

The GBI isn’t yet releasing the troopers’ names.

“The troopers involved, I know them personally,” state patrol Capt. Mark Perry said Saturday night at the hospital. “I know they have a strong faith in God, and I know that’s what it’s going to take to get them through it.”

He added: “This is nothing we ever want to happen, but unfortunately it’s part of the job we do. It’s a dangerous job.”

In addition to the state patrol, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and Gainesville Police Department were involved in the checks with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, as part of Operation Rolling Thunder.

Law enforcement began patrolling the streets Thursday as part of the program in which law enforcement agents are checking for impaired drivers.

The operation initially was planned to last through the weekend but was suspended as soon as the incident happened, said Harris Blackwood, the office’s director.

Before the incident, the operation had been “very successful,” he said.

Traffic on Queen City Parkway was blocked for much of Saturday evening following the incident as authorities conducted the investigation.