GREENSBORO — An off-duty Greensboro Police sergeant was shot and killed by suspects who allegedly stole beer from the Sheetz gas station on Sandy Ridge Road in Colfax Saturday night.
Sgt. Philip Dale Nix, a 23-year veteran of the Greensboro Police Department, witnessed individuals stealing beer from the station and was shot after confronting them. Despite immediate aid from another off-duty Greensboro police officer and a Guilford County paramedic, Nix died at a local hospital.
“I am angry, and I’m sad,” said an emotional Greensboro Mayor Nancy B. Vaughn at a Sunday press conference. “It shows the dedication of our police officers that, whether on duty or off duty, they are always focused on protecting our community and serving our community. And I think he is a hero.”
Three Winston-Salem residents — Jamere Justice Foster, 18; Z’quriah Le’Pearce Blackwell, 18; and John Walter Morrison, 28 — were arrested. Winston-Salem police assisted in the arrests.
Foster is charged with first-degree murder, while Blackwell and Morrison face accessory charges. Foster and Morrison are held without bond, and Blackwell’s bond is set at $500,000. Additional charges are being considered.
Arrest warrants allege the stolen beer was valued at $83.45. The suspects reportedly discussed disposing of the firearm and the getaway vehicle’s license plate.
A “Blue Alert” was sent, the first in North Carolina, according to archives of the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons, the organization that manages the system. It’s similar to the Amber and Silver alerts for missing children and senior citizens, notifying of an extraordinary threat to law enforcement and the public, and is received on smartphones and broadcast via media outlets.
Saturday’s alert, sent at 6:10 p.m. advised of a Chevrolet Equinox with NC tag KKA-4332, “last occupied by 2 black males in their early to mid 20’s, one wearing a black hoodie and black sweatpants with black shoes, with a green/gray toboggan, one suspect wearing a jean jacket with fur and gray sweatpants, with tennis shoes.” The alert was canceled at 7:52 p.m.
Sergeant Nix worked across numerous assignments at Greensboro PD in his 23 years, including the Criminal Investigations Division, Patrol Corporal, Patrol Sergeant, and his current assignment as Supervisor of the Family Victims Unit. He was also a Team Leader on the department’s Peer Support Team for 12 years and Assistant Team Leader of the GPD Honor Guard.
The Greensboro Police Department will share more on a fundraiser for the Nix family on its Facebook page. A memorial has been set up at police headquarters at 100 E Police Plaza in Greensboro.