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Man shot by trooper after firing high-caliber rifle at patrol post
GSP shooting
A man exchanged shots with Georgia State Patrol troopers Monday morning at the post on Cleveland Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers DCN Regional Staff

GAINESVILLE - A Gainesville man may have had a death wish when he was shot by a Georgia State Patrol trooper Monday morning after pulling up to the Cleveland Highway post and firing a high-caliber rifle.

"He was saying to the troopers, ‘You guys are going to have to kill me,'" GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said at a 2 p.m. press conference.

Leighton Beaux Marchetta, 21, pulled up in a silver Ford F-350 pickup truck at about 8 a.m. to the patrol office at 2000 Cleveland Highway and started firing near the building that houses the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team, Georgia State Patrol Capt. Keith Canup said.

"The troopers gave him commands to drop his weapon," Lang said. "He did not comply with the commands and continued to advance toward the troopers."

At that point, Trooper Steve Thompson shot Marchetta, striking him in the shoulder, Lang said.

Marchetta was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville, where he was in satisfactory condition, according to hospital officials.

The troopers were not injured.

Bullets from the rifle "would have easily penetrated a vest," Canup said. "Fortunately, that wasn't the case."

The investigation is continuing. Troopers have blocked Lakeland Drive, the street where Marchetta lives with his parents. Officials were still awaiting a search warrant as of the press conference.

Tanya Brendle and her husband, James, of North Hall, were driving up on the post when they heard gunshots - actually felt vibrations in their car.

Tanya Brendle said she recalled thinking, "That was something close."

They weren't sure what they heard and felt, and didn't realize the seriousness of the incident, until after they had passed the post and reached Limestone Parkway, she said.

"Police officers starting pouring" by, Tanya Brendle said. "I didn't see anything ... because I was the one driving."