Josiah Farino, 29, of Woodstock has been identified as the man shot by a sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon when he stole a patrol car and drove it toward the deputy after a foot chase at Baxter’s Groceries on Highway 92, Lt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.
Farino was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta for an undisclosed number of gunshot wounds he received in the incident, after the stolen patrol car came to a stop about four miles from Baxter’s Groceries, Baker said.
“Farino remains in Kennestone Hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Baker said Wednesday in a news release.
In addition to outstanding charges in Gwinnett and Woodstock, Farino is now charged in Cherokee with aggravated assault on a police officer, theft by taking motor vehicle, interference with government property, fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, misdemeanor obstruction and felony obstruction, Baker said.
Baker said the deputy was dispatched after 911 operators received a call about a suspicious man who the caller thought possibly had warrants out for his arrest. Baker said the warrants were for failure to appear from Woodstock and probation violation out of Gwinnett.
When the call came in, the man was walking on Highway 92 near the Cobb-Cherokee border close to the Colony Center neighborhood, Baker said.
When the deputy confronted Farino in the parking lot of Baxter’s Groceries, at 14865 Highway 92, the man ran, Baker said.
“The deputy chased him around the building, then the suspect jumped in the patrol car,” Baker said Tuesday. “The deputy fired a number of rounds at it, there’s gunshot wounds to the front windshield.”
Baker said Farino fled in the stolen patrol car, heading westbound on Highway 92. Farino made it about four miles before the car came to a stop just past the main entrance of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock on Highway 92, near Neese Road.
“Woodstock officers were at his door as soon as the car stopped,” Baker said Wednesday. “He stopped the car and never left that spot until he was placed on an ambulance.”
Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said city police officers were able to respond quickly, in part because “all of the law enforcement agencies in Cherokee County work very well together.”
“We had officers in the right place at the right time, and we were able to assist,” Moss said of the department’s response.
Baxter’s Groceries is outside the jurisdiction of the city police department, since it is beyond Woodstock city limits. The place where the patrol car came to a stop, near the church, is within the department’s jurisdiction, Moss said.
Moss said Woodstock Police officers were able to pursue the stolen sheriff’s car after Farino left Baxter’s Groceries and started driving westbound on Highway 92.
“It goes back to coordination and communication between agencies,” Moss said.
Baker said the patrol car sustained damage as Farino fled, including three flat tires and scrapes to the side of the car from hitting another car. Baker said one bullet’s exit hole could be seen on the driver’s side door.
“I’ve been working here 21 years. I would say this is the first time I recall seeing a suspect getting into one of our patrol cars and driving away. It’s not something that happens very often,” Baker said.
Highway 92 westbound was completely shut down for hours Tuesday, and eastbound was moving slowly and backed up for more than a mile.
Baker said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, as they do with any deputy-involved shooting.
When Farino is released from the hospital, Baker said he will be taken to the Cherokee County Detention Center.