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Deputies earn medals for valor
Authorities say fatal shootout was only choice
1103-Deputies-honored
Sgt. Marty Adams and Cpl. Ralph Dixon received Medals of Valor on Friday for their actions during a March shooting in Midway. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Sgt. Marty Adams and Cpl. Ralph Dixon received Medals of Valor on Friday at the department’s annual awards and recognition ceremony for their actions during a March shooting. The ceremony was held at the Liberty County Regional Jail courtroom.
The deputies are credited with stopping William Gordon, who posed a danger to his family and the community after he
reportedly set fire to his parents’ storage shed, stole weapons from their home and fired on law enforcement officers who stopped him in Midway. Williams was fatally shot during the exchange with deputies on Highway 84 near Isle of Wight. Officers reportedly commanded Gordon repeatedly to drop his weapons before shots were fired.
Once the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office closed the case, officials set in motion the process to bestow the sheriff’s office’s highest honor on Adams and Dixon.
The March 22 incident began when Gordon reportedly set fire to his parents shed and shot at their Fleming home early in the morning. Detectives interviewed Gordon’s parents and learned he allegedly attempted to start an argument with his father and tried to provoke the older man to shoot him. Gordon also stole several guns from his parents’ home before setting the fire and shooting at the residence. His parents were not home at the time.
A county-wide “be on the lookout” bulletin was issued for Gordon, instructing law enforcement officers to detain the suspect if he was spotted.
At about 3:30 p.m. that day, Dixon saw a car matching the description of the one Gordon reportedly had been driving on Highway 17. Dixon called for backup and followed Gordon, who turned East onto Highway 84. Dixon, Adams, GSP troopers and Midway Police Department officers pursued the suspect with lights flashing and sirens blaring, but Gordon refused to pull over. Eventually, he pulled into a vacant lot near Isle of Wight Road. As Adams exited his vehicle to seek cover, Gordon reportedly fired a round at Adams’ patrol car, striking the rear door and missing the officer by inches. Gordon continued to fire at the officers.
Officers said they commanded Gordon repeatedly to drop his weapons.  Dixon had a shotgun in the trunk of his vehicle and after retrieving it, he said he took cover near the front passenger side of Adams’ vehicle, which was parked in front of Dixon’s.
“It appeared as if he was reloading his guns so I waited ’til I could get a clean shot of him before I fired,” Dixon said. “He had made it clear he was going to take somebody out or himself, and he was using us to do the deed for him.”
Just before Dixon ended the shootout, Gordon, who was wearing a suit and tie, began to walk away from his vehicle with a gun in each hand pointed toward the officers. His actions were recorded by dashboard cameras in the deputies’ cruisers. Shots rang out and the video shows Gordon falling to the ground. The officers began to move toward the suspect to determine whether he was still a threat.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Keith Moran said during the ceremony, “Though this incident resulted in the loss of life, the decisions and actions made by Sgt. Adams, Cpl. Dixon and other officers were to prevent injuries and to protect themselves and fellow officers.”
Adams said he is still wrought with emotion months after the shootout that nearly cost him his life. “I remember seeing a man dressed in a suit who didn’t fit the description of what we in law enforcement call a ‘bad guy.’ In all my years on the road, I have never been but in this situation. I have to credit the training I have received for handling the incident,” he said.
Adams said during an interview after the recognition ceremony that he’s uncomfortable with being called a hero. He’s not a hero, he said, and he wishes his actions hadn’t been necessary.
“I don’t feel worthy of this recognition over what happened,” he said. “I wish I could have helped him with his problem other than what I had to do. I’m glad it turned out well for us. I only wish it had turned out well for him.”

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