Gainesville, GA – Hall County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy Nicholas Blane Dixon was murdered in the line of duty on Sunday night during a shootout with a group of armed burglary suspects.
The incident began just after 11 p.m. on July 7, as deputies were trying to stop a stolen vehicle near Jesse Jewell Parkway and Highland Avenue, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said during a press conference late Monday morning.
The vehicle was believed to have been involved in a series of burglaries in the area, including one break-in where a “large number of firearms” were stolen, Sheriff Couch said.
The driver refused to pull over and eventually crashed, at which point four occupants took off on foot.
“Deputy Dixon pursued and located one of the suspects” behind a residence, and ordered him to show his hands, the sheriff explained.
That suspect was later identified as Hector Garcia.
“The offender disappeared briefly back behind a residence, and then suddenly reappeared and opened fire,” he said.
One of the rounds struck the 28-year-old deputy in the abdomen, just below his vest.
Deputy Dixon and his fellow officers returned fire, striking Garcia multiple times.
Garcia was transported to a local hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and at least one wound to the head. His condition has not been released.
The wounded deputy was rushed to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in a patrol car within minutes, and medical personnel desperately tried to save his life.
But there was “too much damage,” Sheriff Couch said solemnly.
“It is with great sadness that I must report this morning that one of our deputies was killed in the line of duty,” the sheriff told reporters.
Meanwhile, deputies and a K9 unit tracked a second suspect to a nearby residence, and found him hiding underneath a house.
Two other suspects have also been arrested, WGNO reported.
Multiple firearms have been recovered during the course of the ongoing investigation.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has already requested a felony murder warrant against Garcia.
Deputy Dixon joined the HCSO as a detention deputy three years ago, and graduated from the law enforcement academy in June of 2018, according to the sheriff.
“There are simply no words to express the profound grief that his loss brings each of us,” he told reporters. “He was out there in the darkness while most of us slept comfortably…men and women like him are out there every day and every night, and they all know they can face the same situation at any given moment.”
“Their courage, like that of Nicholas’ courage, should not go unmentioned,” Sheriff Couch added.
Deputy Dixon was a valued member of the HCSO, who “was always one to rush to the trouble,” the sheriff said. “We will make sure we take care of his family, as he’s taken care of all of ours.”
His cousin, Chris Cannon, said that Deputy Dixon was born to be a law enforcement officer, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
“You know when you’re passionate about something and you work it into every conversation?" Cannon asked. "That was Blane."
“You could be talking about coconuts and he’d turn into something about his job. He loved what he did," he said.
Deputy Dixon leaves behind his wife, Stephanie, and his sons, nine-year-old Caden and three-month-old Colt Justice.
"He was the best dad there was," Stephanie told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nicholas Blane Dixon, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Deputy Nicholas Dixon, your life mattered.
UPDATE: The Westerly Sun initially reported that one of the suspects was apprehended at a baseball complex in Stonington, Connecticut on Monday afternoon. It has since been determined that the individual they arrested was wanted for another incident, and was not involved in Deputy Dixon's murder.