Gary, TX – Panola County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Deputy Chris Dickerson was murdered in the line of duty during a traffic stop early Tuesday morning.
The incident began at 1:57 a.m., when Deputy Dickerson pulled a vehicle over on Farm-to-Market Road 10, The Panola Watchman reported.
The driver of the vehicle, later identified as 45-year-old Gregory DeWayne Newson, “suddenly exited the vehicle and fired a weapon numerous times at the deputy,” Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake told the paper in a statement.
Newson used a semi-automatic rifle during the attack, Panola County Chief Deputy John Depresca said, according to KSLA.
Deputy Dickerson was hit six times.
Despite being mortally wounded, Deputy Dickerson immediately returned fire, The Panola Watchman reported.
Newson managed to escape.
Area residents heard the gunfire and raced outside to help the wounded deputy, The Panola Watchman reported.
A citizen located Deputy Dickerson’s radio lying in the road and used it to call dispatch for help.
Officer Dickerson was rushed to UT Heath Carthage, where he succumbed to his wounds approximately an hour later.
Police later spotted Newson’s vehicle, leading to an hour-long high-speed chase, KYTX reported.
The suspect ultimately crashed on Highway 3132 near the West 70th Street exit in Shreveport.
He fled into the woods on foot, but was eventually apprehended with the assistance of a K9 unit, according to KGAS.
Newson was arrested on charges of fugitive and flight in vehicle and was booked into the Shreveport City Jail, The Panola Watchman reported.
He will be extradited back to Panola County on a warrant for capital murder of a police officer.
Newson could face the death penalty if convicted, KYTX reported.
The Texas Rangers and over two dozen law enforcement units responded to the area to help investigate the fatal altercation.
Deputy Dickerson, an eight-year veteran-of-the-force, leaves behind a wife and two small children, according to KSLA.
“Our hearts are hurting,” Sheriff Lake said, according to The Panola Watchman. "This young man gave his life doing what he was put on this Earth to do.”
The sheriff said that Deputy Dickerson was “as dedicated as they come.”
“We ask the community to keep all of our deputies and the family of our fallen officer in your thoughts and prayers,” he said.
Panola County Precinct 1 Commissioner Ronnie LaGrone said that Officer Dickerson was “ambushed” during a “cold-blooded attack,” The Panola Watchman reported.
“[This] senseless crime just took the life of a young father, a protector, a lover of his job," he continued. “We want [local law enforcement] to know that we’re behind them always.”
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick denounced the anti-police sentiment that fuels attacks on law enforcement officers.
“This violence against police must end,” Patrick said in a statement. “The first thing that must happen is the rhetoric from the radical, anti-police left, which fuels violence and hate against the brave men and women of law enforcement, must stop.”
“It’s time for all elected officials in both parties and all Americans to come together as one, as we did after the 9/11 attack, to support our police. If we don’t, it will only get more difficult to find great men and women to take on this critical role for all of us,” the lieutenant governor warned.
Patrick asked for Americans to pray for Deputy Dickerson’s family, and for all law enforcement officers.
“They stand between a civilized society and total lawlessness,” he said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott also issued a statement on Tuesday morning.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the Deputy killed in the line of duty and with the Panola County Sheriff's Office as they deal with the aftermath of this unimaginable tragedy," Abbott said, according to KTBS. "We must never forget the solemn oath our law enforcement officers take to protect and keep our communities safe.”
“We must also ensure that the perpetrator faces swift justice,” the governor added. “I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in remembering the sacrifice and service of this brave sheriff's deputy.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Panola County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Dickerson, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Deputy Chris Dickerson, your life mattered.