DECATUR COUNTY, Ga. — The law enforcement community and a small south Georgia town are mourning the loss of a deputy killed in the line of duty.
Lt. Justin Bedwell of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office died Monday morning after being shot in the line of duty, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) confirmed.
"He paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we thank him for his service," the GBI said.
Lt. Bedwell was a 19-year veteran of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. They said he was a patrol commander, training officer and a "highly valued member of the command staff."
Sheriff Wiley Griffin said: "Lieutenant Bedwell will be truly missed and we are devastated by his passing. Please continue to pray for Lieutenant Bedwell’s family, the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office and our community."
Gov. Brian Kemp called it "heartbreaking news" in a statement he released on Twitter and said his service would not be forgotten.
"On behalf of all Georgians, the Kemp Family sends our heartfelt prayers to Lt. Bedwell’s family, loved ones, and fellow officers in light of this heartbreaking news. His heroic sacrifice and dedicated service will not be forgotten," Kemp said.
A massive manhunt took place on Sunday after two suspects, identified as Brad Phillips and Troy Phillips, ran from officers. They were captured and are in custody.
The GBI said a Seminole County deputy was trying to stop the two men in a pickup truck with a Florida tag for reckless driving on Saturday.
A chase ensued and ended up in a neighboring county where one of the suspects shot at a Decatur County deputy’s vehicle.
As Lt. Bedwell was arriving in the area, one of the suspects shot at his vehicle, striking the deputy. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment and surgery where he since succumbed to his injuries.
The suspects took off in their truck and eventually crashed into a wooded area, the GBI said. A Georgia State Patrol helicopter responded to assist in the search.
One of the two suspects, Brad Phillips, 41, was taken into custody without incident. He is expected to be charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, the GBI said.
Troy Arthur Phillips remained at large for much of Sunday morning and was eventually captured and arrested. A massive manhunt by multiple local, state, and federal law enforcement officers led to his arrest.