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Athens homeless center supervisor was attacked in premeditated ambush

Christopher Sullens

By Joe Johnson

A homeless man last week brutally assaulted a supervisor at an Athens homeless center after the victim had confronted him about bringing alcohol into the facility earlier in the day.

According to a police report, 33-year-old Cedric Courtes Smith waited for the victim to leave work late Thursday afternoon before charging him with a machete that he used to strike Christopher Sullens several times in the head and face.

The Advantage Day Center at 240 North Avenue

Sullens suffered extensive injuries and on Tuesday, five days after the attack, he remained in the intensive care unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department report indicates that on Thursday, Sullens had confronted Smith about bringing a can of beer into the Day Service Center. It’s a facility that is operated by Advantage Behavioral Health Systems on North Avenue that provides showers, laundry, Internet, and other services for homeless clients.

Surveillance video footage reportedly shows Sullens walking to his car soon after 4 p.m., at which time Smith emerges from a nearby wooded area, pulls a machete from his shorts, and runs up to Sullens, striking him five times with the weapon before running away towards Bray Street.

Cedric Courtes Smith

The day center supervisor was unconscious when first responders arrived at the scene, and after he initially was taken to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Sullens was transferred by helicopter to the Atlanta hospital.

“Thanks to the very quick response by one of Chris's clients and 2 of his co-workers, they were able to keep him stable and pressure wrap his head to keep him from loosing more blood, which likely saved his life,” said the victim’s sister, Teresa Sullens-Baker.

She said that Sullens had since been removed from a ventilator, and “he's had 3 major surgeries to repair his skull, facial reconstruction and surgery on his eyes. He will also need an additional surgery to remove his left eye, as they were not able to save it.”

Christopher Sullens in the ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital

Smith is being held without bail on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery at the Clarke County Jail.

He was additionally charged with a parole violation, in connection with a seven-year prison sentence for being convicted of a 2017 assault in which Smith used a razor blade to cut the neck of a University of Georgia student in an unprovoked attack.

Smith was was released on parole in February 2013 from the Augusta Transitional Center prison, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

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