Donations from Family of Shooting Victim Honor Local Organizations
Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
Last week, Carmen and Dean Dabney presented donations to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD), Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and the Athens-Clarke Police Foundation in honor of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for their collective efforts in the shooting involving University of Georgia (UGA) lacrosse athlete and student Tate Prezzano, who was shot on April 22 while waiting on a bus on South Milledge Avenue in Athens.
The donations were made by Carmen and Dean Dabney, mother and step-father of Prezzano. “You’ve changed our world,” said Carmen Dabney, praising the collaborative efforts of all three entities. For her 50th birthday, she asked for donations to the three institutions that assisted in the case of Prezzano.
“I wanted to honor you and the work that you do. This (donation) will never, ever amount to the work that you did that day and the love that you shared and the collaboration with each other. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she said.
Philip Haymore, manager of Piedmont Athens Regional’s intensive care unit (ICU) was honored with a gift in his name to Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation. Haymore was on his way to work when he stopped and provided life-saving care to Prezzano shortly after the shooting.
“I happened to be at the right place at the right time that morning and am thankful that I was able to offer assistance to Tate as we waited for an ambulance to arrive,” Haymore said. “It’s amazing to see him standing here today, and I’m so grateful he’s made a full recovery.”
According to Haymore, the Dabneys’ donation will go towards making improvements in the ICU to ensure patients receive the best care during their stays.
He also remained close with Prezzano’s family while Prezzano was recovering in the hospital’s ICU.
Members of the law enforcement community at the local, state, and federal levels combined resources during the investigation, identifying and apprehending a suspect in less than 24 hours.
At the ACCPD, every department, including the Records and Forensics Unit, the Communications Center and the Criminal Investigations Bureau, acted in concert to identify and apprehend a suspect in less than 24 hours.
Key in the investigation was the assistance of the GBI and its forensic artist Kelly Lawson.
While the GBI is not allowed to accept donations, the Athens-Clarke County Police Foundation accepted the Dabneys’ donation on behalf of Mike Ayers, former GBI Special Agent in Charge-Athens and Lawson, who drew the sketch of the suspect that instrumental in his apprehension.
Ayers thanked all the collaborating agencies, Lawson and the community for apprehending the suspect.
“This is a good example of what happens when people work together. Very early in the investigation we reached out for the community’s help in this case and we got it, quickly, largely because of a fantastic sketch done by Ms. Lawson,” said Ayers. “I also thank the community at large because it was the community that solved this case for us.”
Lawson, a six-year veteran of the GBI, was happy her sketch made a difference. “You often go through life in this line of work and you don’t get to see the end result of your efforts. In this case, I did get to see the results and it’s a very fulfilling, very encouraging experience,” she said.
Both the ACCPD donation and the GBI’s donation were accepted by Athens-Clarke Police Foundation board member Joel Gregory.
Chief Cleveland Spruill, Detective Paul Johnson and members of the Criminal Investigations Bureau were honored with a donation in their names to the Athens-Clarke Police Foundation.
Spruill accepted the donation, acknowledging the collective efforts of the entire police department.
“I could not have been blessed with a more capable, more talented, more caring group of individuals that were willing to give their all to do whatever was necessary to bring this individual, who was responsible for the shooting, to justice,” said Spruill.
Speaking to the family, Spruill ended his remarks saying, “Your words alone are thanks enough for us.”