“He paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we thank him for his service,” the GBI said in a tweet.
Bedwell had been in critical condition since the shooting Saturday afternoon. It all began when a Seminole County deputy spotted a white Chevrolet pickup truck with the suspects inside driving recklessly and tried to pull it over, the GBI said.
When the truck’s driver did not stop, a chase began. Another deputy joined the pursuit and, at some point, a suspect inside the truck pulled out a gun and began to shoot at both of the deputies, according to the GBI. The deputies returned fire, the agency said.
More deputies joined in the chase after it crossed into nearby Decatur County.
The suspects pulled into the driveway of a house and tried to break in by shooting through the door, the GBI said. However, the homeowner returned fire and the suspects ran away. One of the suspects then shot and critically injured Bedwell, who was just arriving at the scene in his patrol car, officials said.
The men got back into the truck and tried to drive away, the GBI said, but they crashed in a wooded area. Brad Phillips was arrested at the scene after a GSP helicopter was brought in to search the area.
Troy Phillips was not immediately found, leading to a manhunt. He was ultimately found and arrested Sunday afternoon, but it is not clear how he was located.
In addition to felony murder, authorities in Decatur County charged both men with aggravated assault of a peace officer, party to the crime of murder, attempted home invasion, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and two counts of aggravated assault. In Seminole County, each man is charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during a crime, fleeing and attempting to elude, and reckless driving.
Bedwell had served with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, his family wrote on a GoFundMe page as the officer lay in a hospital. He was the agency’s fourth deputy killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“Justin was a loving husband and caring stepfather, an honorable man,” his colleague, Decatur County firefighter Lt. Brandon Draper, wrote on a second GoFundMe page for Bedwell. “He was a valued pillar of the community. Both as a law enforcement officer and as a voice for victims.”
DeKalb County Sgt. Daniel Marcus Mobley was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty this year when he was hit by a vehicle while responding to a crash on the Downtown Connector on Jan. 2.
The latest incident was the 12th shooting involving a police officer the GBI has been asked to investigate this year. No. 13 took place Sunday during a shooting and three-hour standoff in Cherokee County.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.
— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.