Cobb County rolled its SWAT forces into an upscale neighborhood late Sunday night to arrest a man accused of firing a shot at another man who worked for him.
Lawrence J. Birchell, 54, of 313 Mossy Way, Kennesaw, reportedly fired a shot at Lawrence Freeman, 60, inside Birchell’s home after the two men argued over money.
Cobb County police arrived en masse, according to neighbors in the Lost Creek subdivision, with 30 to 40 officers and at least a dozen vehicles, including a military-style armored vehicle.
The raid went down about 11 p.m. Sunday. It was after 12:30 a.m. Monday before the officers left the scene with their suspect in tow, according to three separate accounts from residents of the subdivision.
“I have never witnessed anything like that. It was an incredible scene,” said one neighbor. “I mean, it was surreal.” The resident said SWAT members arrived “in full regalia” carrying assault rifles and wearing protective vests, helmets and what appeared to be nightvision goggles.
“The amount of resources that were out on the street in this neighborhood, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been living here for 23 years,” said the resident, who called the Journal to find out the nature of the incident to which the police were responding. “As a taxpayer, I want to know what was going on.”
The resident said there were “more unmarked cars than marked” on the scene.
He said he walked outside to ask one of the officers what was going on and was told that they were trying to serve a warrant and that he should “go back inside your home.” He said the officer’s “body language was tense,” and he obeyed the command, continuing to monitor the situation from an upstairs window in his house.
Sgt. Dana Pierce, spokesman for Cobb police, said the incident originally was reported to police about 3 p.m. Sunday when Freeman told them he arrived at Birchell’s home to get paid for work he had performed for Birchell. When the argument escalated, Birchell allegedly pulled out a gun and fired a shot at Freeman, according to Freeman’s account given to police.
“The victim said that his employer had shot at him inside the suspect’s residence on Mossy Way over a dispute about owed wages,” Pierce said. Pierce said Birchell was “not cooperating” when officers showed up at his residence to arrest him. They obtained a search warrant and returned with the warrant Sunday night to search his house.
“We searched for evidence inside the home to corroborate (the employee’s account),” Pierce said. “He resisted commands, and then they used a less-lethal platform and he was taken into custody with minor injuries.”
The less-lethal weapon used to subdue Birchell was a bean-bag gun, Pierce said. This is considered less lethal than a Taser stun gun. Birchell remained in Cobb County jail Monday pending a bond hearing. He is charged with aggravated assault.
Pierce said Cobb police will dispatch the SWAT team when they know a weapon is involved and the suspect is being uncooperative.
“He shot at the individual. So they do roll out the contingency,” Pierce said.