Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown.
COVINGTON, Ga. — A fatal shooting in Mississippi Saturday night, Nov. 23, left the Covington community mourning the loss of life-long supporter and leader, Almond Turner, retired assistant police chief in Covington and a member of the Newton County Board of Education.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston released a statement Monday morning, stating Turner's "senseless death" was devasting.
"Almond served his community proudly for decades in many capacities and his death leaves a tremendous void we will not be able to fill," he said. "Please keep Almond's family in your thoughts and prayers. The world, especially Covington, is a better place today because of Almond Turner and his service."
The Covington Police Department released a statement Sunday morning, saying Turner was "one of the greatest men who ever wore this uniform."
Turner was the city’s longest tenured employee, with 45 years of service, when he retired in 2016. He had served as assistant chief since 1997.
"Rest in peace Chief Almond Turner. Please keep the Turner family in your prayers along with the men and women who served with him," the CPD said. "We are all devastated."
Porterdale police Chief Jason Cripps released a statement Sunday morning, saying the Porterdale Police Department was "saddened to hear the death of retired Assistant Chief Almond Turner.
"He will be missed by so many in the LEO [law enforcement] family," he said. "In addition, many prayers for his family and Covington Police Department."
Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown released a statement Monday afternoon, calling Turner a "colleague and dear friend." Turner was a active reserved deputy sheriff for the NCSO.
"It is with my deepest sympathy to hear of the passing of my colleague and dear friend, retired Assistant Chief Almond Turner. He also served as a reserve deputy at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, and as a board member for Newton County Schools," he said. "Mr. Turner devoted his time and expertise throughout our county for more than 45 years and contributed greatly in all areas he served. He was a valued community leader, an asset to NCSO, mentor and friend to many. He will truly be missed.
"Please know that we are here for you, and do not hesitate to let me know if we can be of any assistance to the family during this trying time."
Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said the school system was "stunned, devastated and heartbroken" in a statement Sunday morning.
“Mr. Turner was a life-long supporter of our community and its school system," she said. "He always wanted and fought for what was best for our students and employees and we looked forward to him continuing to serve on our school board into the foreseeable future. But more importantly, on a personal note, Mr. Turner was my friend and mentor — someone who helped guide me as I began the journey as superintendent of this school system.
“I will never forget his advice, his kind words of encouragement, and most of all his friendship. There will never be another Almond Turner. He was truly one of a kind.”
Shakila Henderson-Baker, who served on the school board with Turner and succeeded him as chair in January, was stunned by the news.
“Mr. Turner was a leader in our community and our school system. This is hard,” she said. “Almond was and is a man who spent his life serving and protecting others, whether it was serving on the police force or serving the community as an advocate for public education. I am shocked to hear of this tragedy. He will absolutely be missed.”
She added, “Almond is a hero to all of us. He was the backbone of our school board. He encouraged us. He fought for the best interest of our children. And he was our friend, I am absolutely devastated at this loss.
“I grew up seven doors down from Almond Turner. He watched me grow up from a little girl. My dad died two days before my first election but Almond came to me and said, ‘I got you.’ And now my ‘I got you’ is gone. I am devastated. We all are.”
Turner was elected to the county school board in 1996 and was in his sixth term. He served as chairman in 2018.
Turner was a deacon at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, where he served on the Ministry Protection Team. As a lover of music and patron of the arts, he was a noted supporter of the Newton County Community Band.
“Monday nights will not be the same without him,” a notice of Turner’s passing read on the band’s Facebook page Sunday morning.
School system officials recalled Turner’s emphasis on ensuring student safety, including installation of security cameras on campuses in the district.
Turner is survived by his wife, Anita; children, Dwahn, Shaye, and Shundra; and several grandchildren.
In honor of Turner's legacy, Chairman Marcello Banes issued an executive order to fly all flags half-staff until Turner has been laid to rest. There will also be a moment of silence, to honor Turner's memory, at noon Wednesday, Nov. 27.
David Clemons, editor and publisher at The Walton Tribune, contributed to this article.