Family says Marine did not have to die in SWAT standoff - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Family says Marine did not have to die in SWAT standoff

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Jimmy Dixon Jr. looked in his son's yard for some sort of answer. He still doesn't understand why a Marine veteran who served three tours of combat in Iraq, died Sunday morning in a standoff with Appling County sheriff's deputies and members of a statewide SWAT team.

"He was wearing his Marine flak jacket (bulletproof vest), and they shot him in the carotid artery," the explained the father, a Marine who served during Vietnam. "If they'd shot him in the jacket, they would have knocked him down, but wouldn't have killed him.

Appling County Sheriff Benny DeLoach told WTOC the situation began just before 4 a.m. Sunday. Neighbors called the sheriff's department to complain that James Dixon III was shooting from his house toward theirs and had hit a nearby barn.

DeLoach said deputies went to the neighbor's home and took the report and were waiting for daylight before they approached Dixon's home. According to Maj. Lee Sweat, of the Appling County Sheriff's Office, Dixon traveled during this time approximately 100 yards away to his parents' home.

"He came in with guns, and we tried to talk him into giving them to us. He said, 'I can't give up my weapons, daddy. The Iraqis are out there and they'll overtake us,'" the father recalled. "I tried to get through to him, but I couldn't."

Dixon said his son was undergoing VA treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While his son was in their house, the parents managed to wrestle some weapons from their son.

However, he grabbed his father's shotgun in the process and took off back to his own home. That's why the parents called James Dixon III's' sister, Serran Aaron, in Jesup.

"I came as fast as I could to help my parents. I was also talking to my brother on the phone, trying to help him," she said.

Aaron arrived at the nearest roadblock and asked authorities to include her in the negotiations with her brother.

"They took me to that corner over there but I never got to talk to him. I asked them to just let him see me and I could get him to calm down," she said.

"We talked with him almost continuously and never did he give us any demands or any indications he would surrender," Sweat stated.

DeLoach said he'd known the 30-year-old veteran before and after his military service. That relationship prompted the sheriff to walk to Dixon's door and speak to him face to face.

"At one point, he said to me that he was going to heaven in a little while," the sheriff said.

But Aaron and her father think deputies and the members of the Georgia State Patrol SWAT team pressed the traumatized veteran too much.

"If they had backed off and let him go in his house, he would have gone to sleep and they could have taken him peacefully. He might not have even remembered all that when he woke," the father contended.

"Why did they bring me down here to negotiate if I wasn't going to allowed to talk to him...just to witness my brother's death?" Aaron asked.

The standoff and shooting are under review by the Douglas office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Funeral services for James Dixon III are as follows:

  • Visitation - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Rinehart and Sons Funeral Home.
  • Funeral - 11 a.m. Friday at the Memorial Free Will Baptist Church in Baxley.

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