ATLANTA — A massive manhunt is underway after a young officer was shot and killed early Saturday outside his police station in Georgia, officials said.
Dylan Harrison, 26, was working his first shift as a part-time officer with the Alamo Police Department when he was gunned down outside the station about 1 a.m., Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Natalie Ammons said at a Saturday afternoon news conference.
Harrison, who lived in Laurens County, is survived by his wife and their 6-month-old son, officials said.
A manhunt is underway for 43-year-old Damien Anthony Ferguson, who goes by “Luke,” according to the GBI. A “Blue Alert” was issued for the Alamo man and a $17,500 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture. Such alerts are issued when a suspect accused of killing or seriously injuring a law enforcement officer remains at large.
Ferguson spent more than seven years in prison after being convicted of charges including theft by taking and aggravated assault on an officer in Wheeler County. He was released from the Coffee Correctional Facility in August 2006, Georgia Department of Corrections records show.
“Officer Harrison was a part-time Alamo police officer working his first shift with the department last night,” Ammons said, adding that Harrison also was a full-time Oconee Drug Task Force agent in nearby Dodge County.
Officials have not released any details about what led to the deadly shooting.
Harrison’s body was taken to the GBI Crime Lab near Decatur for an autopsy Saturday as tributes for the slain officer poured in.
“Our sincerest thoughts, prayers, and condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Officer Dylan Harrison who was killed in the line of duty last night in Alamo,” Telfair County Sheriff Sim Davidson wrote in a Facebook post. “We are sincerely grateful for his service.”
Harrison began his career in 2015 as an emergency dispatcher in Laurens County, state records show. In 2017, he started working for the campus police department at Middle Georgia State University, eventually reaching the rank of sergeant.
Harrison held multiple overlapping law enforcement jobs during his career, which is not uncommon for officers in small police agencies in rural Georgia.
He graduated from the public safety training academy in Monroe County in 2018. Between September 2018 and May 2020, he worked part time for the Cochran Police Department. He also worked as a deputy in Dodge County, serving full time as an agent on the drug task force.
The Alamo Police Department, where Harrison had just started, is a relatively small police force serving a population of about 3,300 residents. Records show the department had nine officers, but five of them worked part time.
Harrison was the first Alamo officer killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks law enforcement deaths. In January, Alamo police Officer Arturo Villegas died from COVID-19 complications.
At least five Georgia officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, but nearly two dozen more have died from COVID, according to the page. Seven Georgia officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020.
In a tweet, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said it was “deeply saddened” by the news of the officer’s death.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Alamo Police Department’s officer killed in the line of duty early this morning,” the state agency said. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the officer’s family.”
Gov. Brian Kemp also shared his condolences following the early-morning shooting, writing, “Our thoughts and prayers are with this officer’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Wheeler County is about 90 miles southeast of Macon and approximately 124 miles west of Savannah.
Anyone with information about the shooting or Ferguson’s whereabouts is asked to call the GBI at (800) 597-8477 or submit tips to the agency’s website.
(Journal-Constitution staff writer Alexis Stevens and data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.)
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