Ronnie Hammond of ARS Shot By Macon Police 1998 Nov 25, 2011 6:56:37 GMT -5
Post by UnReConstructed on Nov 25, 2011 6:56:37 GMT -5
On December 28, 1998 a bizarre even took place in Macon, Georgia when Ronnie Hammond lead singer for the Atlanta Rhythm Section band charged at Macon police with a hammer in his hand and was shot by police:
Fri Jan 1, 1999 5:35 pm
RONNIE HAMMOND Story UPDATE from Macon
Skynyrd frynds Message #257 of 14303
By Joe Kovac Jr.
The Macon Telegraph
Ronnie Hammond, lead singer for the Atlanta Rhythm Section,
was in guarded but stable condition Tuesday, a day after a Macon
policeman shot him in the stomach when he threatened the officer with
part of an old guitar and a claw hammer, authorities said.
Hammond ran at the officer after warning, "You all gonna have to kill
me. If you try to stop me, you better be prepared to die," police said.
The confrontation happened at about 8 p.m. Monday on the front porch
of a south Macon house that Hammond rents.
Police and fire-rescue workers were sent there after
someone called to report that Hammond was suicidal.
On arrival, authorities noticed Hammond, 48, was
bleeding from a severe cut on his wrist.
"It happened very fast. The officer got there, he tried to
talk to the guy, and the guy came out ... he lunged,"
said Macon police spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Friday.
With a hammer in one hand and the neck of a guitar
in the other, Hammond "advanced" toward the officer,
who told him to put down the weapons, police said. The officer first
thought the guitar piece was an ax.
"He disregarded the officer's command and instantaneously lunged at
the officer with both weapons raised over his head," a police report
Sgt. Neal Smith, a 20-year veteran, shot Hammond in the stomach
with his department-issued .40-caliber Glock handgun.
Monday night's incident was the second time this month police have
gone to Hammond's residence at 3978 Mathis St., three blocks north of
Rocky Creek Road between Houston Avenue and Interstate 75.
On Dec. 19, Hammond was there threatening to commit suicide, police
said. According to neighbors, he moved in just before Thanksgiving and
friendly. "He told me if I needed anything to just let him know," said
Durham, his next-door neighbor, who took him cookies the day before
Hammond's brother Steve said Tuesday that his family had been
worried about the singer since a recent relationship "didn't work out."
"The family had been very concerned due to the depression he was
undergoing that something could happen to him," Steve Hammond
said. The brother said it was a friend of his brother's who, on Monday
called for help because of the "serious nature" of the musician's
Steve Hammond said his brother kept the guitar neck for protection.
He said family members "are not convinced the appropriate measures
were taken" to take the singer into custody.
As is routine in police-involved shootings, Sgt. Smith is on
administrative leave while the case is reviewed. Although Smith is a
seasoned cop, police spokeswoman Friday said, "No officer wants to be
responsible for taking a life."
Steve Hammond said his brother's condition was guarded, but stable,
and that he had been talking to family members at The Medical Center
of Central Georgia. The bullet that hit him went into his midsection
and exited near his hip.
Word of the shooting spread quickly among members of Macon's music
"I really don't know what to say," said Skip Slaughter, an engineer at
Phoenix Sound Recording on Broadway. "If you look at the guy, he was
a beautiful soul. It's such a shame."
"It's a sad thing - heartbreaking for us," said Mike Ventimigelia,
and guitarist for Big Mike and the Booty Papas.
Ventimigelia's band was born a few years ago out of informal Sunday
night jam sessions with Hammond at the Back Porch Lounge, a small
blues club Hammond's former wife, Jane, operated at the Howard
Johnson's motel on Riverside Drive. Jane Hammond now runs the
Riverfront Bluez club. She did not return telephone calls from The
Macon Telegraph on Tuesday.
Hammond was born in Macon in 1950 and, in 1970, moved to Atlanta,
where he eventually hooked up with producer and manager Buddy
In 1973, Atlanta Rhythm Section released its first album, "Back Up
Against the Wall," and within a few years gained national prominence
with a series of hit singles, including "So Into You," "Imaginary Lover"
By the end of the 1970s, Hammond had moved back to Macon. He left
ARS in 1981 to spend time with his son Jesse, who was 1 at the time,
and his then-wife, Judy. He re-joined the band in 1987.
Atlanta Rhythm Section was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of
Fame in 1996 and still performs several dozen shows a year.
According to the band's Web site, ARS's next scheduled appearance was
to be a New Year's Eve show in Alexandria, Va.
Staff writer Jim Murphy contributed to this report.
Ronnie Hammond told me once upon a time that he and Ronnie Van Zant were at one time both in love with the same woman and with a sly smile on his face, Ronnie Hammond said to me: "and I married her!"
Ronnie Van Zant lost out on that one and married another Judy...