Officers of the month honored

Twelve Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputies were honored as Officers of the Month for 2020 Friday.

Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh presented Officer of the Month pins.

Fitzhugh said he appreciated the exceptional work done by the officers.

“I appreciate the work you and everyone else does every day,” Fitzhugh said.

SRO Matt Powell responded to a choking student who was not breathing at Cedar Grove Elementary School. He struck her with back thrusts and dislodged a piece of candy, allowing her to breathe.

School Resource Officer Matt King talked with a Smyrna High School student who gave information about a double homicide in Smyrna. He obtained names of a potential suspect and notified Smyrna Police. SRO King was later notified the suspect confessed to the crime.

Sgt. Jimmy Cassidy was concerned about the Sheriff’s Senior Citizens Awareness Network members not having enough food during COVID shutdowns. He obtained food donations and enlisted SROs out of school to deliver food boxes to 80 SCAN members.

SRO Dustin Cox wanted to interact with his elementary school students at Thurman Francis Arts Academy during the COVID shutdown. He read books online to students when schools were closed. He ended the videos by telling the students he missed them and would see them soon.

Detective Ryan Huggins investigated a warehouse burglary where more than $50,000 worth of irreplaceable collectible items were stolen. He identified and charged two suspects and recovered many of the stolen valued at $50,000.

Deputy James Elliott was on patrol when he received a call of a man being shot and killed inside his car near Smyrna. Within minutes, Elliott spotted the car and conducted a traffic stop where he took three suspects into custody. Detectives charged all three men with felony murder.

Narcotics Detective Josh Gregory located a car at a La Vergne residence, registered to a suspect wanted for second-degree murder in Sumner County who was distributing narcotics from the home. During a search, the suspect was arrested on the second-degree murder charge. The Narcotics Unit seized oxycodone pills, heroin, Fentanyl, a pistol, AR-15 rifle and $11,654 cash from drug proceeds.

Detective Ty Downing was assigned the murder of Erick Bixler, 45, who was found deceased July 26 at his Asbury Lane home. He developed two suspects. Through his investigation, both suspects were arrested on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery within three weeks.

Narcotics Detective Christian Wrather worked diligently to stop some illegal narcotics from entering the Detention Center. He identified and prosecuted people who brought contraband into the facility. His actions were key to discourage other inmates from making similar attempts, making the jail safer for inmates.

Sgt. Chris Erwin wanted children and their families to experience a safe and fun family Halloween event despite COVID restrictions. He coordinated the Sheriff’s Office’s first Halloween Grab and Go event at Blackman Middle School. He built Halloween-themed scenes to greet about 365 vehicles traveling through the event.

Deputy Gregg Speck responded to an unconscious driver in a vehicle still running in Christiana. He and retired Deputy Greg King entered the still-running vehicle and saw the driver’s face was blue and he wasn’t breathing. They dragged the man out of the car and Speck delivered several chest thumps to the driver to save his life.

Detective Joseph Duncan responded to on a bomb threat at Crossroads Market in Walter Hill, the day after the Christmas explosion in Nashville. The suspect apparently played a recording similar to the one used in Nashville bombing outside a Rutherford County church during services and at the market. A multi-jurisdictional search of his box truck resulted in Duncan charging the suspect with two counts of filing a false report and one count of tampering with evidence.

The next day, Duncan responded to a murder of a woman. He charged her estranged husband with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Pictured: Officers of the Month for 2020 were honored by Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh and Chief Deputy Keith Lowery Friday during a lunch at Smyrna Event Center. From left are Community Services Sgt. Chris Erwin, Detective Joe Duncan, Patrol Deputy James Elliott, SRO Matt Powell, Lowery, Detective Ryan Huggins, Fitzhugh, SRO Matt King and SRO Dustin Cox.

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