COVINGTON -- A former Newton County Sheriff's Office deputy was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Christmas Eve.
Authorities with the Interior Ministry in Afghanistan said Joseph Griffin, 49, of Mansfield, was a U.S. military veteran acting as an advisor to the Afghan National Police when he was murdered by a policewoman.
Griffin was a deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Office from June 1996 until November 2000 and again from May to December 2007. Sources with the NCSO said he left in 2007 to join a police department in Florida.
"The Newton County Sheriff's Office is deeply saddened by this tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the family," said Public Information Officer Cortney Morrison.
Deputy Jack Redlinger was Griffin's partner when he first came to work for the NCSO. Redlinger said he believes Griffin's body will arrive in Atlanta some time after the first of the year, after the military goes through its procedures. Redlinger is organizing a police escort from Atlanta to Covington, where he expects there will be a small memorial service. A second memorial service is also being planned in Cedar Town, Griffin's hometown.
Griffin is survived by his wife, Rennae, his son Timothy, 23, and stepson, Riley, 17, as well as his parents.
"Joe was a great guy," said Redlinger, who described Griffin as "nice, quiet" and "funny" and recalled that Griffin always made a special effort to go home and eat lunch or supper with his wife.
"Joe used to say, 'When it's my time, it's my time, there's nothing you can do about that,'" Redlinger recalled.
Lt. Tyrone Oliver was Griffin's supervisor in 2007.
"He was a dedicated worker here at the Sheriff's Office, hard working, a team player, always wanted to go above and beyond to make sure the job got done. He's going to be missed," Oliver said.
Griffin was working as a contractor with DynCorp International. According to a press release on the DynCorp website, Griffin was a U.S. military veteran who was in Kabul supporting the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Afghan National Police Department Program. Under the AMDP contract with the U.S. Army, DynCorp assists NATO in providing training and mentoring services for the Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior and Afghan National Police.
"Joe spent his career helping people all over the world, most recently working to help the Afghan people secure a better future," said Steve Gaffney, chairman and CEO of DynCorp International. "The loss of any team member is tragic but to have this happen over the holidays makes it seem all the more unfair. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe's family, loved ones and colleagues during this difficult time."
Griffin worked in support of several of DynCorp's global training and mentoring programs since November 2000, working in Kosovo, Liberia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and began his most recent assignment in July 2011.
The policewoman, identified as Sgt. Nargas -- who uses one name, like many in the country -- walked into a heavily guarded compound in the heart of Kabul, confronted Griffin and shot him once with her pistol, the Associated Press reported.
An investigator of the case, Police Gen. Mohammad Zahir, told a news conference that the policewoman had plans to kill the governor, the city police chief or Zahir himself, but when she realized penetrating the last security cordons to reach them would be too difficult, she saw "a foreigner" and turned her weapon on him.
Sgt. Nargas is a mother of four in her early 30s who joined the police force five years ago, held various positions and had a clean record, according to the Associated Press.
There have been 60 insider attacks this year against foreign military and civilian personnel compared to 21 last year, the Associated Press reported. More than 50 Afghan members of the government's security forces also have died this year in attacks by their own colleagues. The Taliban claims such incidents reflect a growing popular opposition to the foreign military presence and the Kabul government.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.