Vincent Helmly broke down in court yesterday as he addressed his family and the officers he opened fire on.
But what exactly happened that day as shots rang out, and a Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputy was injured, and trapped.
March of 2016. That’s when Deputy Lester Ellerbee was at Vincent Helmly’s house to serve a civil warrant.
Its something he’s done hundreds of times before, but this time was different.
Its a day Ellerbee called the most frightening of his career.
Body Camera video and sound obtained by News 3 gives more insight into what happened, and Helmly’s mental state that day.
It all started with a knock on the door.
Ellerbee knocks, shots ring out.
“Arrggghh,” said the Deputy.
“Officer down,” was the call over the radio.
“You hit?” Sgt. Chris Blount asked Deputy Ellerbee.
“Yeah I’m hit,” said Ellerbee as he looked at blood on his arm from a bullet wound.
“Back away from the door it ain’t going down like this fellas. I’m Sorry. I am sorry,” Helmly yelled out to the other Deputies surrounding the house.
“Let me pray with my dad for the last time,” said a despondent Helmly. “Where’s my father at (gunshot) I said let me pray with my dad.”
“I need to hold him first, I need to hug him. I will (surrender) if you will come up here and give me a hug. I won’t if you can’t.”
“Daddy has anyone been shot, has anyone been hit. Find out. I don’t want to kill anybody.”
“Daddy, I’m sober and my mind is clear. I am ready to meet God.”
“I am not getting into heaven if I kill myself. So y’all will kill me.”
“Dad tell them to go get the guy. I’m not going to hurt him. if they don’t get him, im going to bandage him up now.
“Officer (Ellerbee) I’m not going to hurt you,” Helmly yelled out to the injured Deputy. “Here are some band aids. they won’t listen to me. I aint got no peroxide, its in the truck man, its not a set up. I’m sorry.”
“(Here’s some) Listerine cousin,” as Helmly offers the mouthwash to Ellerbee. “It’s got alcohol in it. it will clean it. The band aids are in the bed of the truck.”
After about an hour hiding behind a truck, Deputy Lester Ellerbee was able to escape and get medical treatment for a bullet wound to the arm.
He is doing fine and is back on duty.
That day in March, Vincent Helmly surrendered after a four hour long standoff.
He was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.
In court he apologized to Ellerbee, the other officers and deputies, and his family.
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – He opened fire on Pooler Police and Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputies from inside his home, and held them at bay for nearly three hours.
Now more than a year after Vincent Helmly was arrested, he talked to the men he shot at, and admitted his guilt.
“Guilty or not guilty?”
With those words, Vincent Helmly admitted he was the man inside a Pooler home opening fire on Chatham County Sheriff’s and Pooler Police in March of 2016.
That’s when Deputy Lester Ellerbee was serving a stalking warrant on Helmly at a home in Pooler when Helmly opened fire.
That led to a three hour standoff with sheriff’s and police. Helmly eventually surrendered. Ellerbe was shot in the arm, not badly hurt.
In a Chatham County courtroom Monday, officers who were shot at were front and center to hear that plea.
Lester Ellerbee was one of the Deputies who stepped out from the audience during sentencing to talk about that harrowing moment.
“So I kept knocking, kept knocking,” said Deputy Ellerbee. “About two minutes later I heard a gunshot. I felt my arm and felt my arm was hit so I hit the floor.”
“I thought I remember calling out to Cpl. Blount, I’ve been hit, I’ve been hit. I got up off the floor and took cover behind Cpl. Blount’s vehicle.”
“I went to the rear of the residence and observed Deputy Ellerbee laying on the porch,” explained Cpl Chris Blount of the Chatham county Sheriffs
“Did you know the extent of Deputy Ellerbee’s injuries?”
“I thought he was fatally shot.”
“I heard a few rounds go off, I feel fragments hit me,” explained Chatham County Deputy Velez, who was on scene that day. “And i noticed officer Amos in front of me fell to the ground.”
“What were you thinking at that point?”
“He was shot.”
A teary eyed Vincent Helmly apologizes to his family and the officers he shot at.
“Would it be fair to say this was one of the scariest moments of your life?”
“Yes ma’am.” said Ellerbee. “Ten years in the military and almost 20 years with the Department, this is the scariest.”
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap had the last word on sentencing.
“He could have killed Deputy Ellerbee,” said Heap. “And none of his actions did anything but put other officers’ lives in danger.
Judge Abbott agreed with that, sentencing Helmly to 20 years in prison.
After the sentence Helmly turned to the audience, speaking directly to the officers and his own family.
“To the law enforcement officers, I’m very sorry,” said Helmly. “I know you probably think, he’s full of crap, but honestly I’m sorry. I ask for forgiveness from all of y’all.”
“I ask for forgiveness from all of y’all,” continued Helmly. “Not only y’all but your families as well. Because you have to go home them at the end of the day. And I thank god you were able to go home to them at the end of the day.”
“To my family. (cries) I love y’all and I’m sorry. (cries) I apologize for letting everyone down. For the bad reputation I might have put on them. My employer, my father’s employer/business, my church and every single one of y’all please forgive me. I love y’all. (cries)”
Helmly’s father said his son had “anger issues” and also said he had a drug problem specifically with synthetic marijuana, or spice.
Judge Abbott said Helmly would be sent to a prison with a drug rehabilitation program.