By Nick Watson and Nate McCullough
Some of the teenage suspects at the center and periphery of the probe into the slaying of Hall County Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon had long been on law enforcement’s radar, according to records obtained by The Times, with one suspect’s name first appearing in police reports at the age of 11.
The incidents range from alleged vandalism and schoolyard fights to threats, auto theft and one encounter with officers that ended with a person being tased.
More than once, alleged victims who lodged complaints later declined to press charges.
Dixon was killed during a shootout July 7 after a traffic stop and subsequent foot chase into a neighborhood off Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville.
Hector Garcia-Solis, 17, who authorities charged with shooting Dixon, had previously been on probation and at one point had an ankle monitor, records show. At the time of the shooting, he had been released from jail only days earlier after an arrest on DUI charges. But records show additional arrests for him and other suspects.
Incidents at school
Jorge Rodriguez, 19, is one of five suspects charged with tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension of a criminal in relation to the Dixon investigation. Authorities allege the five hid guns and clothing related to the case. Rodriguez is additionally charged with theft by receiving. The five were arrested the week of July 18.
But eight years earlier, Rodriguez appeared in a Hall County Sheriff’s Office report taken after an incident on a school playground.
According to the May 24, 2011, report taken at Lyman Hall Elementary School, a group of kids “grabbed (an 11-year-old boy) and forcibly pulled the victim down the slide.”
“The victim went on to say that the offenders flipped him over causing him to fall head first into the ground (and) causing injury to his ankle. While on the ground the victim advised that the offenders began kicking dirt in his face while others threw wood chips at him,” according to the report.
The parents of the victim decided they did not want to press charges.
All five children listed in the report were 11 or 12 at the time.
A second incident, involving Adrian Gonzalez-Verduzco, another of the five arrested July 18, occurred at West Hall High School.
A deputy met with West Hall assistant principal Ethan Banks Oct. 9, 2015, regarding damaged school property.
“Mr. Banks stated Adrian (Gonzalez-Verduzco) was sitting in class when his teacher observed him drawing COPE on a classroom desk. Adrian’s teacher advised Adrian to exit the classroom and stand in the hallway. While standing in the hallway, Adrian drew COPE on the classroom’s wooden door,” according to the report.
Gonzalez-Verduzco was arrested and charged with interference with government property, but due to limited bed space at the juvenile detention facility, he was released to his mother. It is unclear from the report what, if anything, the graffiti meant.
When reached by phone Wednesday, Gonzalez-Verduzco said he did not remember being charged in that incident and did not discuss other incidents.
Less than a year later, Gonzalez-Verduzco was the subject of another investigation, this one involving another of the suspects arrested July 18, Jiovanny Castillo.
In February 2016, an investigator took a report concerning threats Castillo alleged were made by Gonzalez-Verduzco.
Castillo “reported to school staff at Lanier Career Academy that he had been receiving threats from Adrian Gonzalez-Veruzco via cell phone and social media,” the report stated.
“Adrian allegedly sent threats and a picture of a gun to Jiovanny’s cell phone saying that he was going to shoot Jiovanny’s house on the upcoming weekend,” according to the report.
No incident occurred. Over the next two months, the investigator attempted to contact the parents of both boys, but faced “a language barrier” and messages went unreturned.
Castillo’s parents eventually agreed to an interview but never showed up, according to the report. They later informed the school they did not want to press charges against Gonzalez-Verduzco.
“They stated that there have been no problems since the report was taken and they did not feel in danger. Since the report, both students have been in classes together and there have not been any problems or words exchanged between the two,” according to the report.
Traffic stop ends in tasing
Gonzalez-Verduzco’s name would show up in another report from the summer of 2016.
According to that report, Gonzalez-Verduzco was riding in a car with several other people when a sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop the vehicle after observing the car’s driver not wearing a seat belt.
“The vehicle sped up and turned left and both doors came open at that time and the driver jumped out of the vehicle while it was still moving,” according to the report.
The car struck a garage, and the remaining occupants exited the vehicle, according to the report. One person fled in the same direction as the driver, while the other two followed orders to lie on the ground but started saying “F--- the police” when asked their names, according to the report.
Using a K-9, deputies tracked down the two people who fled. One of those was identified in police reports as Gonzalez-Verduzco. Upon being taken into custody, Gonzalez-Verduzco informed officers that the other person who had fled was armed, according to a separate report written by another deputy involved in the incident.
“I noticed the second subject hiding behind a piece of plywood. I started commanding the subject to show me his hands. He refused. I pulled the wood back and the subject immediately lowered his hands to his waist line,” the deputy wrote.
The deputy then tased the person, later identified as Jose Enrique Espinosa, the driver of the car. Espinosa was arrested. The report does not mention if a gun was recovered.
Gonzalez-Verduzco was arrested that afternoon on an “outstanding juvenile pickup order” and also charged with obstruction.
Authorities say Brayan Omar Cruz, 17, was one of the four suspects in the car the night of Dixon’s slaying and is charged with felony murder.
Cruz was reported as a runaway in February, according to a report obtained by The Times. At that time, Cruz’s father told a responding deputy it was “the first time his son has been misbehaving since returning from boot camp.”
That report was later resolved in March when Cruz was found.
Other suspects appearing in the reports include Garcia-Solis and Antony Macias, 18, one of the five charged with tampering with evidence.
Hall County deputies responded to an Aug. 6, 2018, burglary at Texano Auto Sales on Industrial Boulevard, where a 2014 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck, a safe and a dealer tag were reported missing.
According to the report, the wiring to the surveillance cameras and the telephone lines were cut.
“Another office had been ransacked from where the suspects attempted to force open filing cabinet drawers and desk drawers,” according to the report.
The letters “COG” were written on a countertop in sharpie as well as “f--- the” next to a number posted for “law enforcement assistance,” according to the report.
Deputies took a hammer and pliers into evidence at the scene, and one member of the department attempted to locate the missing truck through LoJack.
The next day, the safe was recovered under a trailer on Dorsey Street.
The truck was recovered on Aug. 9 with Macias inside, according to a report. Macias told Gainesville police that while he was in the truck, Garcia-Solis was breaking into another business. Garcia-Solis’ wallet and ID were found inside the truck, according to the report.
Macias was charged with felony theft by receiving.
Macias told the investigator Garcia-Solis had been driving the truck and was told it belonged to Garcia-Solis’ father. Macias told authorities he did not know the truck was stolen.
Garcia-Solis was later charged with theft by receiving.
An assistant district attorney later informed the sheriff’s office that Garcia “was on juvenile probation and before his arrest had an ankle monitor with GPS.”
“The GPS unit showed Hector Garcia at Texano Auto Sales the morning of Aug. 6 at (4:21 a.m.),” according to the report.
Investigators filled out a complaint form for second-degree burglary for Garcia-Solis.
Police have said that a separate burglary at Double Deuce Pawn on Shallowford Road is connected to Dixon’s case. When announcing the additional arrests, authorities said 25 of 27 stolen firearms taken July 6 from Double Deuce Pawn had been recovered.
“A large cache of ammunition and two crossbows were also recovered. Additional crimes were identified as having been done by this group. As a result of the joint investigation, an additional firearm and seven stolen vehicles have been recovered,” according to the news release.
Attorneys for another suspect, Rodolfo Rodriguez-Puentes, and Garcia-Solis declined to comment. Attorneys were not listed with Magistrate Court for Rodriguez, Macias or Gonzalez-Verduzco, who said he had not chosen an attorney.
Macias did not return a request for comment.
An attempt to reach Castillo’s attorney for comment was unsuccessful.