Ga. deputy fired, arrested after fatal shooting of grad student

Former Madison County Deputy Winford “Trey” Adams was off duty at the time of the shooting

Chelsea Prince
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATHENS, Ga. — An off-duty sheriff’s deputy was arrested in Athens on Monday morning in connection with the deadly shooting of a University of Georgia graduate student.

Former Madison County Deputy Winford “Trey” Terrell Adams, 32, is facing a murder charge in the death of Benjamin Lloyd Cloer. The 26-year-old was pursuing a master’s degree in artificial intelligence at UGA

Cloer was shot multiple times as the result of a domestic dispute Sunday evening, according to Athens-Clarke County police. Officers responding to the shooting in the 6000 block of Old Jefferson Road rushed Cloer to a hospital about 6:45 p.m.

He did not survive his injuries. 

“Adams was taken into custody at the scene and, after investigation, charged with murder,” police spokesman Geof Gilland said in a news release. “He was off duty and in plain clothes at the time of the incident.”

Police did not say how Adams and Cloer knew each other. Cloer’s mother, Deborah Houston Cloer, took to Facebook on Monday to memorialize him.

In a public Facebook post, Cloer said her son never had a bad word to say about anyone and was always curious. His inquisitive nature led him to UGA, and Cloer said she was looking forward to all he would accomplish. 

“I thought he was destined to great things with his amazing mind and heart,” she said in the post.

Adams was fired at the scene Sunday night. He had been employed by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office since August 2018, according to Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training records. Clarke and Madison are neighboring counties.

Before coming to Madison, he was employed for a few days by the Royston Police Department and four years with the Statesboro Police Department before that.

Adams voluntarily resigned from both of those jobs, records show. Maj. Jeffrey Vaughn, the chief deputy of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, said Adams was given high recommendations from Statesboro when he was hired. 

Vaughn described Adams as a “model employee” and said he was never disciplined in his job.

“Trey was assigned to the patrol division as a deputy sheriff and had never had a single complaint for any type of use of force,” Vaughn said in an emailed statement. “To be honest we are all blown away by this reaction to a ‘crime of passion.’” 

Sheriff Michael Moore met with Adams at the shooting scene, and he was immediately suspended, Vaughn said. He was fired following his interview with the Athens-Clarke County investigators when they decided to pursue charges.

In announcing Adams’ arrest on Facebook, the sheriff’s office said it was “a sad day for all law enforcement officers.” 

The department asked for prayers for the “MCSO family and the family of the victim.”

Adams is being held in the Clarke County Jail without bond.

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