Deputy Chris Dickerson, 28, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Texas Army National Guard, had been with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office for eight years and was the married father of two young children, the Associated Press reported.
“This young man gave his life doing what he was put on this earth to do,” Sheriff Kevin Lake told the Panola Watchman.
“Our hearts are hurting,” the sheriff’s office added in a statement, according to KLTV-TV of Tyler, Texas, “and we ask the community to keep all of our deputies and the family of our fallen comrade in your thoughts and prayers.” Panola County is in east Texas, along the Louisiana border.
The driver who allegedly killed the deputy was captured later in Louisiana, where he remained in jail early Wednesday, awaiting extradition to Texas.
The suspect was identified as Gregory Newsom, 47, of Shreveport, La. Authorities say he fired upon Dickerson using a semiautomatic rifle. He will face a charge of capital murder, authorities said.
The circumstances leading to the shooting were unclear. The deputy managed to fire back at the suspect, striking him at least three times in a leg, the AP reported.
The confrontation happened near Gary City, Texas. Authorities said they were alerted to the scene when a civilian got on Dickerson's radio and told authorities the deputy was lying shot on the side of the road.
Later, a citizen who heard about the crime called 911 after spotting the suspect’s vehicle heading toward Shreveport. Newsom was tracked down soon after, following a high-speed chase, according to the AP.
Dickerson was among three deputies who were honored for heroism in 2018 after they rescued a woman from a burning home, KLTV reported.
While serving in the Army, Dickerson was an avionic technician who tested Army aircraft to ensure they were safe for use, KYTX-TV reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also released a statement in reaction to Dickerson's death.
“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. “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 Associated Press contributed to this story.