Sheriff Nolan was shot and killed in an ambush attack.
Sheriff Nolan was on duty and talking to a local citizen when two armed suspects approached them. The men asked Sheriff Nolan what his name was. When Sheriff Nolan replied, the men opened fire, killing him instantly. As the citizen ran after the two suspects, he was shot and killed also.
Sheriff Nolan's brother, Deputy Thomas Nolan, had been killed in the line of duty four years earlier when Sheriff Matthew Nolan and Deputy Thomas Noland attempted to arrest an intoxicated man.
Sheriff Nolan had served with the Nueces County Sheriff's Department for five years and was survived by his wife.