The smallish blonde person in the following photos is Courtney Gale.
I bought my house from Courtney and her friend Lisa. She’s a very sweet woman and I like her very much.
Unfortunately, this is what happened to her:
Officer stabbed while working off duty at supermarket
An Athens-Clarke police officer remained in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday night after a man attacked her at Kroger on Alps Road Tuesday, repeatedly stabbing the officer with a kitchen knife until customers intervened.
Sgt. Courtney Gale lost a massive amount of blood, and surgeons operated Tuesday night and three more times Wednesday, according to police.
The 9:30 p.m. attack started when the off-duty officer confronted a suspicious man while working security at the West Athens supermarket, Athens-Clarke police said.
An officer tackled the knife-wielding assailant as he ran through a West Broad Street parking lot about a half mile from the crime scene, according to police.
Steven Anthony Eberhart, 44, of 78 Parkview Homes, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, police said. He is held without bond at the Clarke County Jail.
Officers converged on the hospital and kept vigil.
“Courtney is highly respected and loved very much – she’s family,” Athens-Clarke police Detective Kim Johnson said as she left the hospital Wednesday.
Gale graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in animal science, but joined the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in 1998. She was promoted to sergeant in 2005, and is a supervisor with the Criminal Investigation Division’s robbery/homicide squad.
She was working a side job at Kroger when an employee told her about a man who was acting strangely, pushing a shopping cart filled with suitcases and opening packages of meat, according to police.
Gale was walking toward Eberhart when he lunged, knocked her down, pinned her to the ground and started to stab her, witnesses said.
“It looked like he was trying to keep her from going for her gun or mace,” said one witness, Jeffrey Stovall, a UGA student.
Stovall and his roommate, Andrew Stipe, were about 15 feet away, standing in a checkout line. They thought they were witnessing a murder.
“She turned real pale and there was so much blood, it looked like she was about to die,” Stipe said. “I had to turn away.”
Other customers kicked at Eberhart to make him stop, but Eberhart didn’t run from the store until the manager intervened.
“As soon as I put my hand on him. he turned around and tried to stab me,” manager John Mobley said. “I ran to tell someone to call 911 to report an officer’s down and she’s hurt real bad, and as I came right back, he got off her and ran out the door.”
Even before 911 calls came in, police dispatchers knew an officer was in trouble because Gale managed to push an emergency button on her radio, police said.
A nurse who was shopping at the time probably saved Gale’s life by providing immediate aid, according to police.
“That, and the fact she was so close to the hospital,” Athens-Clarke police Maj. Carter Green said, referring to St. Mary’s Hospital, which is only a few hundred yards away.
The nurse took charge, telling shoppers and employees what first aid supplies to get from store shelves and asking Mobley to use his belt as a tourniquet for Gale, Mobley said.
“She was keeping pressure on to slow the bleeding and telling us to get gauze and other supplies,” the manager said. “To me, there were four to five people who really were the heroes of this whole thing.”
The weapon was a kitchen knife Eberhart stole from Kroger, police said.
“It was a major knife,” said Stipe, who attends Gainesville State College.
Stovall called 911 from his car and helped police follow the attacker as he ran, crossing Alps Road and into the Colonial Promenade Beechwood shopping center then toward an adjoining apartment complex.
An officer tackled Eberhart as he ran in the parking lot of The Omni Club nearby, police said.
Dozens of people concerned about Gale’s condition – from detectives and uniformed officers to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin – visited the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We just want to be here for her and give her whatever she needs,” Johnson said. “It’s a sad, sad day, but Courtney’s a real fighter and we know she’s going to pull through.”
The wounded officer’s mother and sister flew from their home in Maryland to be at Gale’s bedside.
Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said the assault shows how officers put their lives on the line each day.
“Sgt. Gale is an outstanding police officer and has a record of accomplishments with the police department,” Lumpkin said. “The attack on her is a demonstration of the complexities and dangers that are associated with a police officer’s job in Athens-Clarke County where, unfortunately, wanton and vicious attacks occur on our officers too frequently.”
Anyone wanting to help defray Gale’s medical expenses can donate at any SunTrust Bank branch or send donations to SunTrust Bank, Attention: Heidi Spratlin, 1022 Prince Ave., Athens, GA 30606.
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 121307