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Saturday, March 26, 2011

A UGA player's brush with the accused cop killer

As a Georgia football player, Mike Gilliard gets approached by a lot of strangers around Athens. There was one in particular he remembered, who he thinks approached him at the mall one day.

“He asked if we were Georgia football players, and that was it, nothing major,” said Gilliard, an inside linebacker who will be a junior this fall.

It was only this week that Gilliard made the connection: That man was Jamie Hood, the accused police killer who finally turned himself in Friday night after a three-day search.

Hood, 33, is accused of killing Athens-Clarke County police offer Elmer “Buddy” Christian on Tuesday, and also wounding another officer.

Gilliard remembered encountering Hood a few more times, but said he didn’t know him very well.

“Me and Washaun (Ealey) talked about it that the other day: We’ve seen him plenty of times out before,” Gilliard said. “Matter of fact, out, he’s never been a threat or anything. He says ‘what’s up’ to us, and basically that’s it.”

Gilliard and several teammates were watching like many others on Friday night as Hood turned himself in to police on live television.

“It’s real crazy just seeing someone that you’ve seen before, that you’ve shook hands with, he’s on TV for shooting a police officer,” Gilliard said. “That’s real crazy.”

That wasn’t the only Georgia football connection to the Hood man-hunt.

Former Georgia player Bryant Gantt reached out to Hood via Facebook and was instrumental in negotiating Hood’s surrender, according to WSB-TV. Gantt, who lettered at Georgia from 1989-90, told the station he knew Hood in passing.

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