A flag-draped coffin was rolled out of Free Chapel church Thursday, July 11, following an emotional service for Hall County Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon, 28, who was shot and killed Sunday night while pursuing suspects along Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville.
“His last act on this Earth was for the protection of our community. Today we honor his service and we honor his sacrifice,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said.
Sharing his first memory of the deputy with a huge smile, Couch described Dixon as imbuing his shift with character from his “sense of humor and upbeat attitude.”
“From the moment you spoke to him, you knew that Blane Dixon was all in. I believe there are those among us with hearts that God chooses to infuse with a spirit of service and guardianship. Blane’s heart was most certainly one of those, and for people like him, there is just no way to hide that.”
Dressed in matching black suits and navy blue ties, Dixon’s brothers, Zack and Jeremy, and father, Fred, described the man proud to put on his badge every day and wouldn’t shy away from giving his last $20 to a person in need.
“He is a hero, a great man. He will be greatly missed,” Dixon’s brother Jeremy said while being consoled by Zack and Fred.
Sgt. Charles Hewell said he is hard on rookies until they prove themselves.
When Dixon made a call to his sergeant after his first big case, Hewell wanted to lead him to the right answer without solving it for him.
“Blane still had that rookie indecision though, as he kept asking questions. So I stated to him, ‘Dixon, you have the crumbs. I’m not piecing them together for you. You put them together to make your own cookie. He said “yes sir” and hung up the phone, and called you,” Hewell said looking at Deputy Mason Bowen.
A week later, Hewell pulled up on Dixon making a felony arrest.
“I found the cookie, Sarge,” Hewell said recalling Dixon’s remark, as the sergeant’s hard exterior for rookies began to crumble.
The two bonded through on- and off-duty work, becoming close friends. Hewell was Dixon’s partner on the night of the shooting, pulling up behind the suspected stolen car.
“There wasn’t a scream. There wasn’t a cry. He just said, ‘I’m hit,’” Hewell said.
Hewell grabbed Dixon by his vest and told him to hold on when a Gainesville Police unit arrived. Dixon was taken by patrol car to the hospital.
“I miss you dearly, brother. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you or do more for you. We will hold the line and honor you for the rest of our lives. I love you. I’m sorry I couldn’t save your husband, your dad, your son. But I truly believe that night Blane saved me,” Hewell said.
Bowen and Deputy Keith Lyons took Dixon under their wings, though the rookie was something impressive to behold.
“I think at some point we probably all thought he was CIA or something because (he was) just knowledgeable. So knowledgeable,” Lyons said.
Despite being split up at times, Lyons, Dixon and others could spend up to nine hours on the phone with one another.
“I lost a brother, and I love him dearly. For the rest of our law enforcement family in here, he is a symbol for you to follow. Many of you have been here before. We don’t need to be here again. Take this day, learn from it, love each other. Look at the room. Look at the badges in here. We’re a family, and he knew that. And I want to thank you all for giving us him to our family. We love him,” Bowen said.
The family thanked the members of the community, businesses and other organizations that have made donations in Dixon’s honor.
Community members lined the streets as the funeral procession made its way from Free Chapel to Memorial Park Funeral Home.
Dixon's death and Thursday's services came up at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, July 11.
"We need to keep our law enforcement and first responders in our prayers daily, and don't ever miss the opportunity to tell them thank you for what they do," Chairman Richard Higgins said.
Commissioner Billy Powell said people taking time off from jobs to line McEver Road to show their support "just made you proud to be part of this community."Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.
Read the Gainesville Times' coverage of this story here.