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AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — A 26-year-old man was arrested Saturday after police say he killed his girlfriend in Georgia, and then fatally shot a South Carolina police officer responding to a report of suspicious activity, authorities said.
Police in South Carolina said Joshua Tremaine Jones faces charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in the death of Aiken police Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers.
The South Carolina law Enforcement Division said officers were responding Saturday morning to a report of suspicious activity involving two cars, and that Rogers was shot after stopping one of the vehicles.
Jones was arrested hours later at a residence in Batesburg.
Saturday evening, a visibly moved Aiken Public Safety director Charles Barranco told reporters that Rogers had died at an area hospital. The Aiken native had spent a nearly 28-year career with the department; she was 49.
In neighboring Georgia, The Augusta Chronicle reported that Jones also faces murder charges in the death of his girlfriend, 21-year-old Cayce Vice. Police found her body in her apartment Saturday morning after she didn't show up for work at a Five Guys restaurant and coworkers became concerned; she had been shot in the head.
Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles told the newspaper (http://bit.ly/yO5JS7 ) that the agency had obtained warrants for Jones for murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Peebles confirmed that Vice had sworn out a complaint against Jones for assault earlier this month.
A phone message left late Saturday for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office was not immediately returned.
James Jones, the suspect's father, told reporters that his son had past run-ins with the law and "was going through some mental problems." Jones said his son had run away from home and moved in with Vice. He said his son is from North Augusta and briefly lived in Atlanta.
Jones said that when he returned from work Friday, his son had taken his blue BMW without permission and left. Jones said he and his other son drove around searching but couldn't locate him.
Jones said his heart goes out to the victim' families, and that he's devastated as a father.
"I just went straight to God and said, 'I cannot believe this.' After all that I have taught him, I just never thought that my family would have to deal with something like this," Jones said.
The Aiken public safety department issued a statement Saturday evening praising Rogers as "an invaluable street cop who exemplified the model of a Public Safety Officer," according to WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C.
"Master Corporal Rogers was a highly skilled investigator and senior patrol officer on her shift," the statement said. "Please keep the Rogers family and Aiken Public Safety in your prayers as once again we deal with this tragic loss."
Last month, hundreds of people gathered to mourn another Aiken police officer killed in the line of duty. Officer Scotty Richardson, 33, died in the early hours of Dec. 21 after being shot in the head during a traffic stop at an apartment complex the night before. Aiken is a city of 30,000 that's located about 20 miles northwest of Augusta.