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Hero Down: Decatur County Sheriff’s Lt. Justin Bedwell Murdered By Gunmen

Brinson, GA – Decatur County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) Lieutenant Justin Bedwell was killed in the line of duty on Monday morning after being shot while assisting with a pursuit on Saturday night.

The incident began in Seminole County after a deputy tried to stop a white Chevrolet pickup for driving recklessly, WCTV reported.

The vehicle, which had Florida tags, was traveling 81 miles per hour at the time, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin said, according to WTXL.

The suspects, later identified as 40-year-old Troy Arthur Phillips and his 41-year-old brother, Brad Phillips, failed to pull over and opened fire on the Seminole County deputy with a .30-caliber rifle, according to Sheriff Griffin.

The suspects also allegedly shot at a second Seminole County deputy as the chase continued into Decatur County, WTXL reported.

As DCSO deputies joined the pursuit, the suspect vehicle pulled into the driveway of a residence and the suspects attempted to shoot their way into a home, according to police.

The homeowner was able to keep the intruders out by firing his own weapon back at them, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

As the gunmen were running back to their vehicle, Lt. Bedwell arrived at the scene, WCTV reported.

The suspects shot at his vehicle, hitting him, before they fled the area.

The brothers ended up crashing the truck in a wooded area a short while later, according to investigators.

Brad Phillips was arrested without further incident and has been charged with assault on a peace officer, WTXL reported.

Troy Phillips was found crouching down in the woods less than a mile away from the scene of the shooting after a manhunt that lasted more than 12 hours.

Sheriff Griffin announced his arrest at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

A Seminole County sheriff’s deputy was also wounded in the attack, according to WTXL.

The second deputy was transported to a hospital for treatment and has since been released.

Lt. Bedwell, a 20-year veteran of the DCSO, was flown to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare with a gunshot wound beneath his arm, according to WTXL.

The critically-injured lieutenant was rushed into surgery.

He succumbed to his wounds on Monday morning, Sheriff Griffin confirmed to WCTV.

Lt. Bedwell leaves behind his wife, Katherine, and his daughter, Maddie, Bainbridge Public Safety (BPS) said in a Facebook post on Monday.

“Our hearts are broken,” the post read. “To Katherine and Maddie and all of Lt. Bedwell’s family, to his brothers and sisters in blue, to the community who has depended on Lt. Bedwell for safety and protection…we at Bainbridge Public Safety offer our deepest condolences. Lt. Justin Bedwell’s sacrifice will be forever remembered, and we hope that the outpouring of love to his family and friends will help in some small way during this extremely difficult time.”

A fundraising page established to help Lt. Bedwell’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $5,500 so far.

“Our prayers go to the family, both blood & blue, of Lt. Justin Bedwell of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office who died this morning after being shot in the line of duty,” the GBI tweeted on Monday. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we thank him for his service.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Justin Bedwell, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Lieutenant Justin Bedwell, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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