MACON, Ga. — It took Bibb County deputies nearly an hour to respond to a deadly shooting early Monday, according to records from the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.
Macon-Bibb County's gunshot detection system, ShotSpotter, alerted deputies.
In 2021, the county agreed to spend $2 million on ShotSpotter, saying it would help them respond faster to shootings and save lives.
16-year-old Derrick Putmon was shot to death on Williams Street just after 2 a.m. Monday.
Some of our questions-- why did it take so long for deputies to respond? What other calls were higher priority? And, how many deputies were working that night?
We asked for the records, and we got some answers.
"The first deputy arrived there, and he saw a young man deceased on the sidewalk," said Colonel Henderson Carswell.
But the shooting was reported 53 minutes before by ShotSpotter.
According to dispatch records, ShotSpotter detected 20 gunshots in about 18 minutes. The system reported 10 rounds at 2:14 a.m., 5 rounds six minutes later, and 5 more rounds 12 minutes later at 2:32 a.m.
However, the first deputy wasn't dispatched until 2:56 a.m. and arrived 11 minutes later.
Colonel Henderson Carswell says in most cases, a 53-minute response to a shots fired call is acceptable.
"Because most of the time, when you get there, there's some shell casing on the ground, and nobody's even there for most of the calls we get from ShotSpotter and shot fired," Carswell said.
Dispatch records show that the ShotSpotter system labeled the call as high priority. But the Sheriff's Office says they treated this call like all other ShotSpotter and shots fired calls--medium priority.
Carswell says that's because nobody called 911 to report that someone was shot-- not even people in a nearby home that was also shot up.
"In this particular case, for that call to move to a priority one call, someone would have to call and say 'hey, my house is being shot or someone is shot at this location, then it goes to a priority one call and then it's immediately dispatched at that time,'" Carswell said.
Records say while these ShotSpotter alerts were coming in, the seven deputies and one lieutenant on call were stretched thin across the county--responding to 46 calls in three hours. Carswell said some were higher priority than ShotSpotter calls like fights and domestic disturbances. Domestic calls require more than one deputy to respond, he said.
We reached out to Mayor Lester Miller for comment. He says a 50 minute response time to a violent act is unacceptable, but he says the system is working as expected. Miller and Carswell say the sheriff's office has used ShotSpotter as an investigative tool to help better collect evidence.