Ex-deputy, veteran service organization director surrenders after standoff with police


An Augusta murder suspect involved in an hours-long standoff with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies is in custody after surrendering late Thursday afternoon.

Jason W. “Moose” Cunningham was wanted in the Thursday shooting death of Nicole Diane Harrington, 37, of Hallandale Beach, Fla. Harrington was found with at least one gunshot wound early Thursday on the third floor of the Augusta Convention Center parking deck.

Columbia County sheriff’s Maj. Steve Morris said the agency received a call from Richmond County around 9:45 a.m. that Cunningham was in the area of the Pointes West Army Resort, a lakefront campground and park in Appling.

“We located him minutes later at the recreation area. We secured the area, started negotiations and almost eight hours later he surrenders,” Morris said.

A joint effort by Richmond and Columbia deputies, the Georgia State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources officers and Fort Gordon military police eventually led the armed Cunningham to surrender, Morris said.

“Time was our friend. We were willing to wait it out and we were successful today,” he said.

Cunningham did have some sort of personal relationship with Harrington, but Morris said he would not specify what it was. Cunningham is not facing charges in Columbia County and was taken to the Richmond County Jail for booking, he said.

Cunningham is a former Richmond County deputy, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. According to his LinkedIn page, he worked at the sheriff’s office from September 2001 to February 2018.

Besides his police career, Cunningham’s LinkedIn profile said he owns a property management and security services company, BlueLine Management Services, and was president of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan club, Augusta SteelMasters, for almost 28 years.

He is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Augusta and served as marketing and events manager for ForcesUnited, the veterans’ assistance group, for two years after leaving the sheriff’s office, the profile states.

Stephen Schroeder, who runs the Augusta SteelMasters club Facebook page, said he met Cunningham in 2008, and that Cunningham and his father created the club..

“I’m really shocked that he is involved in this situation,” Schroeder said. “I’m hoping that he is actually not the person that murdered the woman. I’m kind of speechless right now.”

Schroeder said Cunningham was very passionate about everything he did. Cunningham broke ties with the club about two years ago after starting work with Forces United and getting too busy, he said.

In a statement, ForcesUnited Interim CEO and President Victoria Hann confirmed Cunningham worked for the organization handling fundraising and marketing before he resigned in April.

“Jason (Moose) Cunningham is a former employee of ForcesUnited, who handled fundraising and marketing from January 2018 to April 2020. During his tenure, he was dedicated to our mission in serving veterans and very involved in the community,” Hann said. “We are praying for everyone involved in this situation.”

Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this article.

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