GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Law officers charged one man with murder and arrested three other suspects after a Georgia sheriff’s deputy was gunned down in a Sunday night shootout northeast of Atlanta.
Hall County Deputy Nicolas Dixon, 28, was killed exchanging gunfire with people who crashed a stolen car Sunday night in Gainesville, Sheriff Gerald Couch said at a Monday news conference.
“He was out there in the darkness while most of us slept comfortably — and bravely doing things that he could. It was his job and he loved doing that,” Couch said.
“He was always one to rush to the trouble and try to help people,” he added.
Hector Garcia Solis, 19, faces a charge of felony murder, as he is believed to be the shooter, the sheriff said. Garcia Solis was wounded in the torso and head, and was in critical condition at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, authorities said Monday.
A second suspect was tracked by a police dog and apprehended, the sheriff said. Officers spent much of Monday searching for two additional suspects they considered armed and dangerous.
By mid-afternoon, all four had been apprehended, the sheriff’s office announced. Authorities didn’t immediately say what charges the other three might face.
The slain deputy had been with the department for three years and leaves behind a wife and two young children, the sheriff said.
Authorities said the violent episode began with a series of weekend car break-ins and burglaries in Gainesville, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta.
Dixon was among several law enforcement officers who were trying to stop a stolen vehicle that’s believed to have been involved in the break-ins. The stolen vehicle crashed and several occupants began running before the shooting began, authorities said.
Dixon pursued Garcia Solis near a residence and ordered him to show his hands, the sheriff said. But the man “disappeared briefly back behind the residence and suddenly reappeared and opened fire,” Couch said. Dixon was hit just below his ballistic vest as he returned fire. Other deputies then opened fire on Garcia Solis.