PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A Panola County sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop early Tuesday morning, and the suspect is now in custody, according to Sheriff Kevin Lake.
Chief Deputy John DePresca confirms that the victim was Chris Dickerson, an 8-year sheriff’s department veteran. Dickerson leaves behind a wife and two small children. He served in the United States Army prior to his time with the sheriff’s office.
Lake told KSLA, one of our sister stations, that Gregory Newson was arrested and charged with capital murder of a police officer.
Panola County Chief Deputy John Depresca said the deputy was shot six times with a semiautomatic rifle while he was conducting a traffic stop on FM 10 at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. The incident occurred near Carthage, according to Sgt. Jean Dark, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A sheriff’s office spokesman said they believe that the deputy fired his weapon during the incident.
“Area residents, who had heard the gunshots, found the injured deputy and called for help,” a press release from the Panola County Sheriff’s Office state. “The deputy was transported to an area hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.”
Newson allegedly then fled from the scene where the shooting occurred and drove to Louisiana.
The arrest report from the Shreveport Police Department stated an SPD officer spotted the GMC Yukon that Newson was in and tried to make a traffic stop. He activated his emergency lights and siren. Initially, the driver of the SUV stopped near the intersection of Pines and Westport, but then he fled south on Pines at a high rate of speed.
The driver of the Yukon then wound up on Bunscombe, where he crashed and then fled on foot.
A Shreveport police K-9 was able to locate Newson and bit him, according to KSLA. He was arrested at the scene and taken to the county jail. The press release from the Panola County Sheriff’s Office stated that Newson will be extradited back to Texas.
The deputy was an 8-year veteran of the Panola County Sheriff’s Office, according to one official. Although the deputy’s next of kin has been notified, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told KLTV News that they are not releasing the deputy’s name at the family’s request. (Ed. note: The deputy’s identity was officially released to media just before 4 p.m.)
Texas Rangers are conducting an investigation at the scene, Lake said.
“We truly appreciate the assistance of the citizens who came to help the deputy and those who called in valuable information and help authorities track down this suspect,” the Panola County Sheriff’s Office press release stated. “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.”
The Panola County Sheriff’s Office press release stated that the investigation is still in its beginning stages, and new information will be released as it becomes available.
Gov. Gregg Abbott released a statement on the shooting Tuesday.
“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. 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. I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in remembering the sacrifice and service of this brave sheriff’s deputy,” the statement read.
According to a post on KGAS Radio’s Facebook page, Still Waters Cowboy Church on Highway 315 will hold a prayer vigil for the fallen deputy on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 6 p.m.
KLTV has a crew in Panola County. Stay with KLTV and KLTV.com for updates.