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Deputies 'did everything right' in confrontation that ended tragically, sheriff says

Hendersonville police officers listen to a speaker during a tribute to those lost on Sept. 11 and to Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Hendrix, who was killed in the line of duty early Thursday. Hendersonville police officers listen to a speaker during a tribute to those lost on Sept. 11 and to Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Hendrix, who was killed in the line of duty early Thursday.

The deputies who encountered an armed subject "did everything right" before the gunman in one movement grabbed a pistol and fired at a deputy, mortally wounding him, Sheriff Lowell Griffin said during a Sept. 11 memorial service that also served as a tribute to the fallen officer.

Dozens of first responders and members of the public turned out Friday morning for the service, which turned more personal with the death early Thursday of Henderson County Deputy Ryan Hendrix, who succumbed to severe wounds 10 hours after the gunman, identified as Robert Ray Ross Jr., shot him in the face. Two other deputies returned fire, killing Ross.

"I stand here today asking a special blessing on the family of Ryan Hendrix, who gave everything to assist innocent strangers, facing down the evil he found," he said. "Make no mistake about it, I have been through every aspect of the investigation. What I can tell you is that the officers there did everything right and we still suffered a tragic loss."

"It is so sobering," he said to the uniformed law officers, paramedics and firefighters gathered at the Historic Courthouse plaza, "because I have been so fortunate to stand beside many of you as we moved forward to help others."

All first responders, running toward danger, face the possibility of injury or death.

"Ryan made that sacrifice yesterday," Griffin said. "And yet I found solace in knowing that Ryan had tremendous faith and God has a plan and his plan includes Ryan."

County Emergency Service Director Jimmy Brissie and retired Army Lt. Col. Bruce Hatfield also paid tribute to Hendrix and to first responders who ran to danger on Sept. 11 and in their jobs every day.