Dec. 31—Editor’s note: The MDJ counts down the Top 10 local stories of 2022 as determined by newsroom staff. Today’s installment is No. 1.
Cobb Countians were shocked when, on the night of Sept. 8, news broke that two Cobb County sheriff’s deputies had been killed in the line of duty.
Jonathan Koleski, 42, and Marshall Ervin Jr., 38, were gunned down while serving a warrant in a quiet west Cobb subdivision.
Earlier this month, Christopher Golden pleaded guilty to the murder of the two deputies. Under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, he received two life sentences, plus an additional 55 years, without the possibility of parole.
“Today, a man was brought to justice for the terror that he brought to our community … Our hearts are still hurting, but tonight we will sleep a little softer knowing that this case is behind us,” Cobb Sheriff Craig Owens said on the day of the hearing.
According to prosecutors, the deputies were killed when they attempted to serve a warrant for a theft case to Christopher Cook at a home in the Hampton Glen subdivision. At the home, they were confronted by Golden, who fired on the deputies with a rifle.
Golden and Cook were apprehended after a brief standoff.
At a news conference following Golden’s court appearance, District Attorney Flynn Broady declined to comment on a possible motive for the deputies’ murders, “because we still have another pending case on Mr. Cook.”
The killings of Koleski and Ervin made national headlines and prompted an outpouring of support from across Cobb and Georgia. Thousands attended memorial services in the week after their deaths, including local and statewide elected officials, as well as law enforcement personnel from across the state. Citizens lined the streets along the routes of the funeral processions to pay tribute, and a fundraiser for the families of the deputies raised more than $150,000.
Koleski is survived by his wife.
“He never met a stranger,” said Melissa Marchetti, Koleski’s sister, at his funeral. “Within a couple of minutes of meeting him, you already feel like you’re just catching up with an old friend. That’s how comfortable he made you with a laugh, or just his big heart.”
Ervin is survived by a wife and two children.
“He was a light,” wrote Ervin’s wife, Jodi, in a letter read at his funeral by Pastor Brian Bloye. “He was an old soul. He was beautiful, perfect. He was a wonderful man. To know him was to love him. The girls and I were blessed for the time that we had with him.”