Authorities in Louisiana arrested a man Tuesday suspected of shooting and killing a Panola County sheriff’s deputy during an early morning traffic stop, officials in Texas said.
Residents found the deputy, identified as Chris Dickerson, injured but still alive after he was shot just before 2 a.m. Tuesday on Farm-to-Market Road 10, according to authorities. The residents called for help and Dickerson was taken to a hospital, where he later died of his injuries, deputies said.
"We truly appreciate the assistance of the citizens who came to help the deputy and to those who called in valuable information (and) helped authorities track down this suspect," Sheriff Kevin Lake said Tuesday in a statement. "Our hearts are hurting and we ask the community to keep all of our deputies and the family of our fallen comrade in your thoughts and prayers."
Dickerson served for eight years with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office.
“He served with complete professionalism and had a passion for the youth of our community,” Lake said.
In a Twitter post, officials with the East Texas Council of Governments mourned Dickerson’s death, noting he was named the group’s 2018 First Responder of the Year for his part in saving the lives of a woman and her dog from a house fire one year earlier.
"East Texas lost a hero," the group said in the post.
Authorities said Dickerson stopped a Chevrolet Tahoe around 2 a.m. Tuesday on the northbound side of Farm-to-Market Road 10 near Farm-to-Market Road 2260. Deputies said the driver of the vehicle "suddenly exited the vehicle and fired a weapon numerous times at the Deputy." Panola County Chief Deputy John Depresca told KSLA the suspect fired six shots at Dickerson using a semi-automatic rifle. Dickerson returned fire and the driver fled from the scene, deputies said.
A Shreveport police K-9 officer stationed himself along a stretch of Interstate 20 after hearing the description of the vehicle driven by the person who shot Dickerson and eventually spotted one that matched, according to police. A subsequent chase led to the arrest of Gregory Newson, 47.
Newson is facing a charge of capital murder of a police officer, according to Shreveport police.
"The circumstances of this horrible tragedy serves as a solemn reminder of the inherit dangers faced by the men and women in uniform across our country," police said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Please keep the Panola County Sheriff's office and Deputy Dickerson's family in your thoughts, prayers and hearts."
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday in a statement that Dickerson is survived by "a grieving family and two young children."
"We must never forget the solemn oath our law enforcement officers take to protect and keep our communities safe," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "We must also ensure that the perpetrator faces swift justice. I ask that all Texas join Cecilia and me in remembering the sacrifice and service of this brave sheriff's deputy."
Texas rangers are investigating the case.