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N.C. officer fatally shot after witnessing crime identified

“So the term ‘off-duty’ is almost a myth,” Sheriff Danny Rogers said. “We are never off-duty and we never know when we have to intervene.”


“Our goal is to always make sure we serve and protect,” Rogers said. “Even though he was not in uniform, he was still serving and protecting this great city and county.”

Officer Down Memorial Page

By Nancy McLaughlin
News & Record

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tributes have poured in for Greensboro Police Sgt. Philip Dale Nix, the officer fatally shot Saturday at the Sheetz convenience store at 3202 Sandy Ridge Road.

“He was one of the best police officers you’d ever want to meet,” said former Police Chief Tim Bellamy, when reached Sunday. Bellamy worked with Nix when Nix was a detective in the fraud unit.

“He was just a good person personally and professionally,” Bellamy said.

Nix, a UNCG graduate who has worked for the department for more than two decades, most recently served as the supervisor for the department’s Family Victims Unit, which operated out of the Family Justice Center.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Greensboro had lost someone who contributed to the fabric of the community and helped people when they needed it the most.

“One of the things that really hit me is that Sgt. Nix was a victim’s advocate and there are so many people in this city better off because of him,” Vaughan said. “When the city realizes what’s been taken away they are going to be very angry.”

Nix comes from a public service family and his connection to the Greensboro Fire Department was profound, with a family legacy deeply rooted within the ranks, according to the agency.

His father is retired Capt. Eddie Nix , and his brother, Dan Nix , is a current firefighter with the fire department. His uncle is retired Assistant Chief Skip Nix. And there are others, Fire Chief Jim Robinson said in a written statement.

“I want to express our deepest sympathy and gratitude for Sergeant Nix’s dedicated service,” Robinson said. “His legacy will forever be etched in the annals of public safety, and his memory will continue to inspire those who follow in his footsteps.”

Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson described Nix Saturday as “a loving husband, father and son.”

“We ask for prayers for the family of the fallen officer,” Thompson said.

Police have announced the arrests of three suspects: Jamere Justice Foster, 18, Z’quriah Le’Pearce Blackwell, 18, and John Walter Morrison, 28.

The officer had seen a crime taking place inside the store and approached the suspects when he was shot around 4 p.m., Police Chief John Thompson said at a news conference Saturday.

Foster is charged with first-degree murder, misdemeanor larceny, and conspiracy to commit larceny and is held with no bond allowed. A warrant accuses him of stealing 10 cases of beer valued at $232.90.

Blackwell is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and is being held under a $500,000 bond. According to a warrant, she told Foster that, “they needed to get out of there because he just killed a cop.”

The warrant says that Blackwell then accompanied Foster to sell the beer and purchase narcotics, then talked with Foster about disposing of the firearm used in the homicide along with the registration plate on the suspects’ vehicle.

Morrison is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, misdemeanor larceny, and misdemeanor conspiracy to commit larceny and is being held without bond.

Additional charges may be forthcoming as the investigation continues, according to a police release.

In a Blue Alert issued by authorities Saturday evening, police said they were looking for two people in a Black Chevrolet Equinox that was believed to be traveling west on Interstate 40 . The alert was canceled just before 8 p.m.

The Greensboro Police Department later thanked the Winston-Salem Police Department for assisting in making the arrests.

A second off-duty police officer and a Guilford County paramedic were at the scene of the shooting at Sheetz and immediately rendered aid to Nix, Thompson said as he choked up Saturday evening. The sergeant was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers sent condolences to the family and the police department team on behalf of his agency.

“Losing a team member or an officer or deputy is never easy,” said Rogers, who lost a bailiff who tested positive for COVID in 2020 and later died.

Rogers said officers are “never really off duty.”

“Our goal is to always make sure we serve and protect,” Rogers said. “Even though he was not in uniform, he was still serving and protecting this great city and county.”

Law enforcement officers are an essential piece to the community, Rogers said.

“So the term ‘off-duty’ is almost a myth,” Rogers said. “We are never off-duty and we never know when we have to intervene. Our hearts go out to the family and Chief Thompson and his team.”

Tributes have also poured onto the Greensboro Police Department’s Facebook:

“Thank you sergeant for your 22 years of service to protect and serve.” — signed Susan Dunn

“This absolutely breaks my heart for all of you and all his family.” — signed Kristen Migliaro Riggins

“What a hero to still be trying to protect his city even off duty.” — signed Gina Marie .

“Always keep our first responders in our prayers that they come home , keep safe out there in the unpredictable world.” — signed Atkins Medley Joy

“My heart goes out to his family because that’s one call or knock on the door that no family ever wants to receive.” — signed Tia SJ

Gov. Roy Cooper said in a Twitter post Saturday that he had spoken with Thompson.

“Our prayers are with the Greensboro police and family and loved ones,” Cooper said. “Every effort must be made to apprehend those responsible and bring justice in this tragic situation.”

At the news conference Saturday, Vaughan described the fallen police sergeant as a hero.

The officer’s death demonstrates the dedication of Greensboro police officers whether they are on duty or off duty to protect Greensboro residents, Vaughan said.

The family of the fallen officer “needs some time to process what happened,” Vaughan said. “As a department and a city, we need some time to process what happened.

The police sergeant’s death is the Greensboro’s 72nd homicide so far in 2023, said Patrick DeSota, a police spokesman.

Winston-Salem Journal reporter John Hinton contributed to this story.


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