Marfa native killed at New Year’s Eve event

SAN ANGELO — A Marfa native was killed in the early hours of January 1 after authorities said a “jovial snowball fight” ended in deadly gunfire.

Asa Nixon, 38, had gathered with an unknown number of people at a hunting cabin outside of San Angelo to celebrate the New Year. There, according to a news release from the Tom Green County sheriff’s office, there was a snowball fight.

That snowball fight devolved into a “verbal altercation,” according to the sheriff’s office, and Nixon allegedly became “physical” with someone else at the cabin. Nixon then reportedly left.

Around midnight, Nixon is said to have returned to the cabin, “acting in a threatening manner.” People at the cabin locked the door and called police, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said Nixon forced his way into the cabin. Inside, someone fired one shot at Nixon, killing him, according to the statement from the sheriff’s office.

Details on Nixon’s death are still murky, including how a snowball fight escalated into a shooting or whether anyone will be charged in Nixon’s death. At press time, The Big Bend Sentinel has not yet seen an incident report for the shooting, which was handled by both the Tom Green County sheriff’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In its news release from January 1, the sheriff’s office said there was still an “ongoing investigation” into the circumstances of the shooting. The office did not respond to requests for comment, including on whether anyone had been charged.

Nixon, who grew up in Marfa, was the grandson of former Marfa Mayor Jane Shurley. He also had ties to the Shurley Ranch south of Marfa, where he was co-owner. He later moved to San Angelo and started Desert Mountain Guide Service, a hunting guide company.

Nixon was in the news in November, after authorities in Presidio County said Nixon and another man — William Rodgers of Miles — had allegedly trespassed onto a local ranch to collect a trophy bull elk carcass. Both men faced misdemeanor charges for possessing an exotic animal carcass without landowner consent.

Rod Ponton, Presidio County attorney, confirmed on Monday that the charges against Nixon had been dropped in light of his death. Local authorities still plan to prosecute Rodgers, Ponton said.

The Shurley Ranch declined to comment on the incident. Nixon’s company, Desert Mountain Guide Service, also did not respond to a request for comment.

In a social media post on Friday, Nixon’s mother, Rachael Shurley, thanked friends for “the amazing outpouring of love and support that we have received after the loss of our beloved Asa boy.” In tribute, the family planned to start a college savings account for Nixon’s two daughters, she said.

“Asa loved his daughters, his family, and his many friends,” Shurley wrote. “He never knew a stranger. He had a deep connection with the land and respect for all animals.”

Shurley declined to comment for this story.