GBI releases name of man killed in shootout with Athens police officers


By Joe Johnson

Authorities on Sunday afternoon identified the man who was killed during a shootout with Athens-Clarke County police officers as 45-year-old Nan Zhao.

According to a media release issued by the Georgia Bureau of investigation, Zhao had been involved in a dispute with a neighbor at The Oaks Apartments just prior to 9 p.m. Police on Saturday said that the neighbor told a 911 communications officer that Zhao had threatened him with a gun.

While searching for Zhao in the complex located off Gaines School Road a pair of officers encountered the man and tried to speak to him, according to the GBI.

Zhao ignored the officers and took cover behind a dumpster from where he opened fire on the officers, the GBI said.

Both officers returned fire, striking Zhao at least once, according to the GBI.

He received treatment at the scene and died after being transported to a local hospital, according to the GBI.

Neither officer was injured.

Zhao's body was slated to be autposied at the GBI's Crime Lab in Decatur.

The incident was the sixth officer-involved shooting in Athens this year and the third in less than three weeks.

The first police shooting in 2019 happened in March when a man was shot and killed by officers as he approached them while pointing a gun in a parking lot on West Lake Drive.

The following month, another man was shot and killed while brandishing a gun on Hull Road. Police wanted to speak to the man as part of a peeping Tom complaint when the man pointed a shotgun at the officers.

On July 1, officers fatally shot a man who was behaving irrationally prior to charging at an officer with a knife at the entrance of River Club apartments off Macon Highway.

On Oct. 6, a police officer shot and seriously wounded a man who police said attacked him with a machete when the officer responded to a report of domestic violence at University Garden Apartments on Baxter Drive.

On Oct. 14, a 54-year-old woman was fatally shot on Sartain Drive as she approached an officer while saying she had a gun and a knife, and then charged at the officer with a knife raised over her head.

The GBI is conducting investigations into the three October police shootings, the findings of which will be turned over for review by the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Office.

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