Orange police mourn fatally shot Georgia officer, a former Orange PD Explorer

By Lou Ponsi

When word spread of the shooting death of Officer Antwan Toney of the Gwinnett County Police Department in Georgia, the news reverberated some 3,000 miles across the country and rocked the Orange Police Department.

Toney, who was shot and killed Saturday when responding to a call involving a suspicious vehicle, began his law enforcement career in 2006 as an Orange Police Explorer. He graduated from El Modena High School the same year.

At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, Toney responded to a call regarding a suspicious vehicle sitting near a middle school in Snellville, a suburb of Atlanta.

As Toney approached the car, a barrage of bullets came his way.

A fellow officer returned fire, and pulled Toney out of the line of fire as the suspects sped away.

Officer Antwan Toney of the Gwinnett County Police Department in Georgia was a former Orange Police Explorer and an El Modena High School graduate.
Photo provided by the Orange Police Department via Facebook

Toney, who had just turned 30 and was on the job with the Gwinnett County Police Department for three years, died from his wounds a few hours later.

Orange Police Officer Carlos Romero, one of several current Orange PD personnel who served in the Explorers with Toney in 2006, learned about Toney’s death on Facebook.

“I recognized his face immediately,” Romero said. “I was completely shocked. I’m still shocked.”

Romero sent a text to his sergeant and other members of Orange PD to inform them of the tragedy.

“I wanted everyone to know he was one of ours,” Romero said.

Orange Police Honor Guards Miguel Zamora, who was also an Explorer with Toney, and Jon Pickett have flown to Georgia to participate in funeral services for Toney, which take place Wednesday in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

According to Toney’s obituary on the Crowell Brothers Funeral Home website, another service is planned for Toney on Nov. 3 in Los Angeles.

Virtually everyone, from relatives to members of his current and former law enforcement agencies described Toney the same way.

“As soon as he entered a room, he was friendly,” Romero said. “He was the type of person who was never mad … always smiling.”

Phillipe St. Marseille, an Orange Police Services Officer who was also in the Explorers with Toney, said he was working in the field Saturday when he got word.

“There are several employees here, sworn and unsworn, who knew him pretty well and have taken it pretty hard,” St. Marseille said. “He was someone who went into law enforcement for the right reasons and really wanted to help people. He was always nice to everyone. He had a kind heart.”

In an interview with a local TV station, Toney’s sister, Carla Johnson of Lakewood, said her brother had wanted to be a police officer since he was a young boy.

“We find comfort in knowing that he died doing what he loved,” Johnson said. “He loved his job. He constantly talked about different things he did with children and the community or different events he was able to volunteer for as a police officer.”

Following Toney’s shooting, a widespread manhunt ensued involving SWAT officers, K9s, and helicopters.

One of the two suspects, 19-year-old Isaiah Pretlow, was arrested late Saturday and charged with aggravated assault.

The second suspect, Tafahree Maynard, 18, who investigators believe fired the shots at Toney, was located in a shed behind a home on Monday morning.

Authorities said Maynard refused to obey verbal commands, was shot with a Taser and then shot and killed when officers saw a weapon in his hand.

Toney joined the department as a recruit in October 2015. He graduated from the Gwinnett Police Academy in April 2016.

The Facebook group, “In Memory of … El Modena Vanguards,” which lists El Modena graduates who’ve died, had a post about Toney.

One commenter described Toney as the “nicest guy ever.”