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Police: Off-duty Pentagon officer charged with murder after fatal shooting of 2 people in Takoma Park

The officer, identified as David Hall Dixon of Takoma Park, Md. is being charged with two counts of second-degree murder and handgun charges, police say.

TAKOMA PARK, Md. — The off-duty Pentagon officer who allegedly shot and killed two people he said he believed were attempting to break into a car early Wednesday has been arrested and charged with murder, Takoma Park Police Department said.

The officer, identified as David Hall Dixon of Takoma Park, Md., has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of use of a handgun and reckless endangerment in the killing of 32-year-old Dominique Williams and 38-year-old James Lionel Johnson, police said.

Dixon will also be charged with attempted second-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony in the assault against 36-year-old Michael Thomas, who police said was the driver of the vehicle Dixon shot up.

"Mr. Dixon’s overview of events was inconsistent with the facts in the case, and Mr. Dixon had no lawful or justifiable reason to shoot and kill Mr.Williams and Mr. Johnson," Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul said. 

Credit: CBS
Mugshot of David Hall Dixon

The shooting happened on Wednesday around 5 a.m, police said. Takoma Park officers responded to the incident at Takoma Overlook Condominiums on New Hampshire Avenue for reports of gunshots. On scene, the officers were approached by off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) officer Dixon who said he witnessed an attempted car break-in. According to Takoma Park police, Dixon said he "engaged" the individuals and opened fire at them when they fled the scene in a vehicle.

Police were later informed that two gunshot victims had driven themselves to Prince George’s Hospital Center. Both died at the hospital from their injuries, police said.

Detective Charles Earle said Friday during a press conference that evidence showed the victims were shot in the rear upper torso or back area. He said he believed they were in the car when they were shot. 

DeVaul said Dixon was not in uniform and was believed to be on his way to work at the time of the incident. Devaul also said his department's investigation confirmed Dixon's account that the victims were breaking into cars, but said his department has no intention of charging the surviving victim, Michael Thomas, with any crimes. 

"We absolutely encourage people not to take action if they observe criminal activity," Chief DeVaul said. "Be a good witness, call us, but do not take action. We want our citizens to be our eyes and ears, but not to intercede themselves."

A Department of Defense spokeswoman confirmed to WUSA9 that the off-duty Pentagon officer involved in the shooting had been employed with the agency since July 2019. Prior to that, a spokeswoman said, he had served as a federal police officer from 2009-2019 and also as a U.S. Army military policeman and in the U.S. Air Force as a combat crewman.

The DoD said the officer is "current on all use of force and firearms qualifications."

The DoD also said a 2014 regulation limits off-duty law enforcement authority for PFPA officers to a "serious breach of the peace (when violence is being committed or immediately threatened) including assault and threats to kill, injure or maim." PFPA officers are also bound by a 2008 use-of-force regulation stating that officers may fire at moving vehicles "when an employee has a reasonable basis to believe that the vehicle poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm to the employee or others."

Chief DeVaul reiterated Friday that he does not believe this case involves Dixon's position as a law enforcement officer. 

"He was a civilian, who acted as a civilian, who happened to be a law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction," DeVaul said. "That being said, we do not believe that Mr. Dixon had any law enforcement powers in the state of Maryland."

Dixon is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center, and will go in front of a District Court judge Monday at 1 p.m. to set a preliminary hearing date and to determine whether he will be released pending trial.

"Understanding the seriousness of the situation and their responsibilities, we are conducting a stand-down with our officers to ensure they have a full understanding of their off duty responsibilities and review our use of force policy and jurisdictional considerations," Dr. Daniel P. Walsh, the acting director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said

Dixon is currently on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.  

Based on a recent video Takoma Park Police said it will be filing criminal charges against Dixon for his actions in allegedly assaulting a woman on May 6, 2020.

The details of this latest incident are still not known to WUSA9.

This story is developing. WUSA9 will continue to bring the latest updates as they become available.

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