Officials have released the name of the Effingham County deputy who shot a suspect on Tuesday at the Shyam Food Mart on Highway 80 in Eden, GA.
According to law enforcement, Adam Harmon shot 23-year-old Vincent Thompson during a sting operation. Harmon is on paid administrative leave, which is department protocol in response to deputy-involved shootings.
Thompson had previously sold guns illegally to undercover deputies from the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff said Thompson sold multiple stolen guns to undercover deputies over the last several months, some even with serial numbers scratched off.
“It does take time. Anytime you're dealing with any stolen property, you have a certain amount of research you have to do, watch what you have going on, and make sure you have weapons that I need and that criteria that have been taken,” Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said.
On Wednesday, Thompson’s mother disputed the way the sheriff described her son.
The only thing Susan Lofthouse didn't dispute is that her son had a lot of guns. However, she says he was a legal dealer who collected guns and also fixed guns for other people.
She said, if he had any that were stolen, he didn't buy them knowing they were stolen.
"Selling guns is how he was making a living. He goes and sets up at the flea market, on Craigslist. That's why he was meeting at a gas station. People when they sell stuff on Craigslist and stuff like that, when they buy and trade with other people, they meet in certain areas,” she said.
Thompson's mother tells me he sold guns to make a living. She insists that if he had any stolen guns, he did not buy them knowing they were stolen.
"If he messed up and got a gun through one of these people, he can probably prove it through an ad or a text message or anything and they have his phone so they should know,’ Lofthouse said.
The sheriff, though, says his deputies had bought multiple stolen guns from Thompson.
"Directly to the deputies, yes. Still the weapons and weapons with altered serial numbers,” he said.
GBI agents will figure out what happened during the shooting and if it was justified. The sheriff stands behind his deputies' actions.
"Again, [we] will meet with the GBI when they complete their stuff just to make sure. But I don't see anything, I mean he was Johnny on the spot, did what he had to do,” Sheriff McDuffie said.
Lofthouse says she wishes everyone would wait for all of the facts to come out and let him have his day in court.
"All these people are talking about him being a drug dealer, and crackhead, and all this and shaming him all over social media and nobody knows him. Nobody knows really what happened,” she said.
The sheriff feels confident these charges will stick with possibly more charges coming down. Thompson is now charged with manufacturing a product with THC and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Deputies are still trying to find out if some of the guns are legally owned by Thompson, which his mom claims to be true. Thompson's first court appearance was on Thursday. His case was bound up to Superior Court.
"The problem with a lot of stuff today is nobody has serial numbers. We've got a ton of firearms that we're having to look through and we may or may not find serial numbers on them because people just don't write their serial numbers down," Sheriff McDuffie said.
WATCH Sheriff McDuffie's full interview during a news conference held Tuesday at the scene:
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