Blue Ridge, Ga. – A community was shocked to hear the news of a double murder in the small town of Morganton, Ga. The victims Amber Jackson, a young mother, and her child, 3 year old Ethan Jackson were found deceased from gunshot wounds on the front steps of an apartment residence located off of Underwood Road.
Also at the scene was accused murderer Joshua Fults, ex boyfriend of Amber Jackson. Fults was found suffering from what the Georgia Bureau of Investigation deemed an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound”.
Fults was arrested at the scene by deputies with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and transported via flight to a medical facility where for days he remained in critical condition.
Little is known of the events that transpired on March 4, and with the news that accused killer Fults had succumbed to his injuries and passed away on March 12, it is likely that not many details of that evening will ever be revealed.
Police reports obtained from the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the McCaysville Police Department shed light into the psyche of Fults and the pattern of events that led up to that fatal evening in March.
A call was placed to 911 in the afternoon hours of June 30, 2018 and the subsequent events following that call may have been a foreshadowing of the tragedy that would later unfold.
According to 911 dispatch, Jackson placed a call fearing for her safety and that of her then 2 year old boy. Jackson told 911 operators that Fults had a violent past and had become violent with her on the Sunday prior to this event.
Fannin County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the scene and while in route Sgt. Bramlett was contacted by the McCaysville Police Department to see if assistance was needed.
Due to the McCaysville Police Department being in closer proximity to the incident, Bramlett told Patrolman Brackett and Sgt. Petty to proceed.
Brackett and Petty were first to arrive on the scene. The officers saw Fults sitting on the front porch of the residence, blocking the front door and holding a large hunting knife. As they approached, Fults looked at them and said, “Do not come any closer.”
Brackett and Petty chose at this point to stay back and Brackett began to speak with Fults in an attempt to deescalate the situation. While Brackett engaged Fults, Petty seeing the severity of the situation, radioed for additional law enforcement and an ambulance.
“I just want to die today,” Fults yelled to Brackett when questioned why he was doing this.
Brackett described Fults holding the knife to his wrist and his neck, threatening to kill himself: “Mr. Fults at times would calm down and then at times would become enraged and yell at me.”
Sgt. Bramlett and Lt. Stanley from the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office arrived next on the scene, and devised a plan with the McCaysville officers to get Jackson and her child out of the house.
“I continued to keep Mr. Fults’ attention,” Brackett described the actions taken while fellow officer Stanley was able to make his way to the back of the house and escort the two victims out of the residence and to safety.
The officers noted that Fults remained unaware during this time that his ex girlfriend and her child were no longer in the home.
Additional law enforcement arrived on the scene, including Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Arp.
With Fults becoming more agitated by the presence of the officers, a decision was made for the use of non-lethal weapons in hopes of bringing the standoff to an end.
“Upon Inv. Arp’s arrival, a plan was made to have Inv. Arp go around through the woods and get behind Josh,” Bramlett explained the decision and the plan that officers laid out, “Lt. Stanley was going to drive Amber’s mom’s vehicle to the residence and when Josh went to the vehicle, Inv. Arp would use the bean bag to distract Josh to get close enough to use a taser.”
Arp was able to gain the tactical position he had hoped for, and Brackett convinced Fults to put the knife down and begin to approach the officers. As Fults approached, Arp shot 3 rounds of bean bags.
When seeing that the bean bag rounds had no effect on Fults, officers then employed the use of 4 tasers. The tasers also had no effect and despite being rushed by law enforcement Fults was able to make it back to his previous position and regain control of the large knife he had laid down.
Deputy Peardon with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office recalled that “the male subject stated that he drank a 12 pack of alcohol prior to this incident” and this could partially account for why the non-lethal weapons had no effect.
“Mr. Fults would scrape the knife across his neck and did superficially scrape his skin causing it to bleed,” Brackett said explaining Fults actions once the knife was back in his possession.
Officers spoke with Amber Jackson at this point to see if she would be willing to have a conversation with Fults “in an attempt to bring a peaceful end to the situation”. Jackson agreed.
Surrounded by law enforcement and a distance away from Fults, Jackson waited while Fults agreed to put down the knife and kick it toward the officers. Once the knife was secured, Fults approached Jackson and spoke with her.
According to multiple statements from law enforcement on the scene, Jackson agreed to let Fults hug her and urged him to go to the hospital to get help. Fults agreed to Jackson’s pleas and told law enforcement that he would cause no further chaos and would cooperate allowing them to transport him.
Fults voluntarily got in the back of a patrol car and law enforcement proceeded to take him to Fannin Regional Hospital for evaluation, but the ride became riddled with numerous stops as Fults once again became combative.
The first stop, while en-route, came about when Fults complained of getting sick. Officers pulled over and accommodated him by giving him a paper bag for his nausea.
Getting back on track, officers had to pull over a second time when Fults removed his belt in the back seat of the patrol car and attempted to hang himself.
“Mr. Fults was extremely strong and fought,” Brackett recalls having to forcibly remove the belt from Fults possession. It was at this time that Fults was handcuffed and put in leg restraints.
Law enforcement continued on from the second stop and made their way to Fannin Regional, but by the time they arrived Fults had become more agitated and had managed to remove himself from the “leg hobble” and was choking himself with the handcuffs.
“He was still resisting inside the ER,” Peardon said of Fults arrival to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, Fults laid on the ground and refused to stand up. A bed was wheeled outside and officers were able to get Fults restrained. Fults was then sedated and released to the hospital.
While this incident was the most detailed and involved, it was not isolated. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office has responded multiple times to complaints involving Fults, including another 911 call made by Jackson in Sep. 2018 where again Fults was threatening suicide.
According to the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN), a local charitable organization for survivors of domestic and sexual assault, “domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior or coercive control in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another”.
NGMCN states on their website : ***If you are currently in a domestic violence or sexual assault situation and require immediate attention, please call 911 for assistance. When the immediate crisis is over we will be here to support you in safety planning, counseling referrals, temporary shelter, and other individualized services.***
You can reach North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network by calling 706-632-8400.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website states, “We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals”.
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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