03/25/2007

Dallas officer killed in shootout

Officer Down: Senior Cpl Mark T. Nix - [Dallas, Texas]


ODMP

Biographical Info

Age: 33

Additional Info: Senior Corporal Nix had been a member of the Dallas Police Department for just under seven years. He was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and had served in Desert Storm. He is survived by his fiancee, parents, and sister.

Incident Details: Cpl. Nix was shot and killed when he attempted to apprehend a murder suspect. Cpl. Nix and his partner had spotted the car of a homicide suspect driving down the street and had pulled it over. The suspect opened fire, shooting from inside his car, at Corporal Nix, striking him in the chest, neck and leg.

Cause of Death: Gunshot wounds; type of gun unknown

Date of Incident: March 23, 2007



LOUIS DeLUCA
Dallas Morning News

Dallas police officers consoled each other outside Parkland Memorial Hospital after one of their comrades, Senior Cpl. Mark T. Nix, 33, was shot in a West Dallas neighborhood Friday night.

He died later at Parkland. Senior Cpl. Mark T. Nix, 33, was fatally struck in the neck and chest as he approached the car, which may have been seen fleeing a recent slaying.

But police said later that they don't believe that the man driving the car Friday was involved in the slaying.

Police said the driver was critically wounded in a shootout after he fired on officers about 6 p.m.

Cpl. Nix was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital in a patrol car because traffic congestion prevented an ambulance from immediately reaching the scene. He died a short time later.

The officer was hired in June 2000 and was assigned to the northwest patrol station.

"My heart goes out to the family, and all the other officers," said Police Chief David Kunkle, reached in Las Vegas at a family function.

Plainclothes officers had spotted a two-tone red and gray Chevrolet Caprice about 5:30 p.m. Friday that closely fit the description of the car seen fleeing the scene of a fatal shooting two days earlier in the 1500 block of Southerland Avenue in southeast Oak Cliff.

"They called and said, 'We think we're behind a murder suspect,' " said Sgt. Gary Kirkpatrick, a homicide supervisor who investigates police shootings.

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Sharon Martin said she pulled into her driveway on Bernal Drive seconds before she saw the Chevrolet Caprice flying by at about 80 mph.

"He wasn't dodging anything," she said.

As several police cars followed with lights and sirens on, the Caprice spun out of control, landing in a yard in the 4100 block of Bernal.

Then she heard the gunshots.

"You couldn't count them," said Ms. Martin, who had come home to take her son to basketball practice. "It sounded like fireworks."

Sgt. Kirkpatrick said officers were close to apprehending the man when he began shooting from inside the car.

"One of the officers tries to get him out of the car and he shoots" Cpl. Nix, Sgt. Kirkpatrick said. Other officers returned fire, riddling the Caprice with bullet holes. Officers pulled Cpl. Nix away and rushed him to Parkland.

"Due to the time of the event, there was a lot of traffic," said spokesman Sgt. Gil Cerda, who was visibly shaken at Parkland. "So the ambulance was not able to get there on time. One of the officers actually transported our officer to the hospital."

Senior Cpl. Jeremy Borchardt, the officer who reportedly drove Cpl. Nix to Parkland, was himself shot on duty in late August during a standoff outside a motel room.

On Bernal, police cleared the neighborhood as tactical officers surrounded the car with the wounded gunman still inside. About an hour later, the standoff ended.

When officers searched the Caprice, they found an assault rifle and what they believe to be crystal methamphetamine.

Cpl. Nix became the fourth North Texas police officer killed in the line of duty since November 2005.

Friends said Cpl. Nix, who was engaged to be married, was a Desert Storm veteran and majored in philosophy in college. They described the six-year veteran who worked the night shift in northwest Dallas as a hardworking cop with a dry, sarcastic humor.

"He was a wonderful man and an even better officer," Senior Cpl. Janice Crowther told reporters. "I didn't know too many officers that worked harder than he did. He was very humorous. He kept us laughing and actually made our job a lot easier."

Officer Michael Hubner said Cpl. Nix was on his paintball team, which played in the police olympics for the last three years.

A friend said Cpl. Nix also was a Navy field medic. Even in the toughest times, Cpl. Nix kept his humor, she said.

"He would send funny postcards on the K-ration boxes," the friend said. "Most wouldn't think he's got a sense of humor, but he's extremely funny."

As officers gathered to mourn their fallen colleague and lowered the flag at his northwest patrol substation, investigators worked to piece together the events that led to his death – the 77th death in the line of duty for the Dallas Police Department.

Officers thought the Caprice was the same one seen leaving the scene of a fatal shooting at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Vincent Wesley, 21, was shot in the head inside a drug house in the 1500 block of Southerland Avenue. The motive, apparently, was robbery, and the suspect and victim probably knew each other, police said.

Investigators said there was a large amount of marijuana scattered in the street in front of the home. Another man who was inside the home dived through a window to escape the killer.

Investigators believe the killer or killers fled in a late 1990s two-tone red and gray Chevrolet Caprice.

The department's newly established Fusion Center, designed to get crime intelligence out into the field quickly, issued an alert the day of the slaying, and again Thursday.

Staff writers Michael Grabell and Ty A. Allison contributed to this report.

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