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Arrest Made in Hit-and-Run Death of Ga. Officer

Police arrested a suspect Tuesday night in the hit-and-run that killed a Henry County police officer.

Ruben Marin-Garibay, 43, of Stockbridge was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, failure to maintain lane and hit and run, Major Jason Bolton with Henry County police said.

Officer Elgin Daniel, 53, and a roadside assistance worker were hit Monday night as they stopped to help a stranded motorist. John Cook, 58, and Daniel were both transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where Daniel died from his injuries. Cook's injuries were non-life threatening.

Before joining the Henry department, Daniel had served 26 years as a DeKalb County police officer.

"He was too young to retire," older brother Edward Daniel told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He figured he'd go back for a few more years, then call it quits for good."

So, two years ago, Elgin Daniel went to work as an officer for the smaller Henry County Police Department.

While helping the motorist on North Henry Boulevard in Stockbridge, Elgin and Cook were hit by a large Ford truck. The driver never stopped.

Police said the truck was a 1997 to 2007 Ford F-250 or F-350 pickup with extendable mirrors. It has front-end and front-driver's side damage and was last seen traveling eastbound on Ga. 138 toward Rockdale County, police said.

Daniel is the third police officer killed in the line of duty in the metro Atlanta area recently. On Nov. 3, two Atlanta Police Department officers --- Richard J. Halford, 48, and Shawn A. Smiley, 40 --- died when the helicopter they were in crashed into power lines.

Daniel's brother says his family worried about his job.

"When he first became a cop, he got into a scuffle and had his jaw broken," Edward Daniel said. "You always worry about that, that something's going to happen."

As one of five siblings in a close-knit family, Elgin Daniel was the only officer, but it was a job that suited him.

After attending Slater Elementary and the former Price High School in southwest Atlanta, Elgin Daniel attended college for two years before picking a career, his brother said.

"It turned out to be his calling because he was pretty good at it," Edward Daniel said.

When not working, Elgin Daniel was devoted to his wife and three adult children. When his two boys were younger, Elgin Daniel spent summers coaching their baseball teams, his brother said.

"He was just a good man," Edward Daniel said.

On Tuesday, colleagues from both Henry and DeKalb counties remembered Elgin Daniel.

DeKalb County Interim Police Chief Lisa Gassner, in a statement, extended her condolences to Daniel's family and to Henry County police.

"He left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of his fellow officers," Gassner said. "He will forever be remembered as a man who always encouraged others to challenge themselves and strive to live a life of excellence."

John Soublis, whose home is near the accident scene, was placing flowers and a U.S. flag in his front yard Tuesday to honor Daniel.

Soublis said he was sitting on his front porch when he heard the crash. He ran to the scene and saw Daniel lying in the road and not moving.

"His gun had been knocked out of his holster," Soublis said.

A shaken Gordon Jarrett, the motorist Elgin and Cook were assisting, ran up to tell him what had happened, Soublis said.

"I have heard of hit-and-runs, seen them on TV, but a police officer. ... I can't imagine that person not stopping," Soublis said. "You can see them blue lights for a long way off. There's no sense in going that fast on a rainy night in the dark. It's just senseless, but you see it all the time."

The Henry County Police Department offered a $1,000 reward, and the Georgia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police added $5,000 to the reward fund. It was unclear Tuesday night who would receive the reward or if it would be rewarded at all.

Funeral arrangements for Elgin Daniel were pending Tuesday night. In addition to his brother, Edward, wife, Teresa, two sons and a daughter, Daniel is survived by his mother, Conolia Daniel, another brother and two sisters.

Copyright 2012 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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