GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) – The police dispatcher’s voice filled the crowded corner of the cemetery, calling for a Georgia deputy’s response. Listeners Thursday knew the answer would never come.
Loved ones and law enforcement officers gathered around Hall County Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon’s casket on the hot afternoon to witness his final radio call. The dispatcher issued a code ordering a stop to all radio traffic — a code used in moments of distress. Tearful sniffling turned to sobs among the mourners.
“Deputy Nicolas Blane Dickson is 10-7, 10-42,” the dispatcher said. “End of watch: July 7, 2019. Deputy Dixon, your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Godspeed. We have the watch from here.”
Dozens of people lined the streets of Gainesville to watch police vehicles lead Dixon’s processional to Memorial Park Cemetery. Agencies from Atlanta, Johns Creek, Norcross, Ellijay, and Clayton County joined Hall County officers.
The 28-year-old deputy died early Monday. The previous night, Dixon and other law enforcement officers tried to stop a stolen car they believed had been involved in car break-ins and burglaries, authorities said.
After the stolen car crashed, Dixon chased 17-year-old Hector Garcia Solis, who was later charged with felony murder. Garcia Solis shot Dixon just below his ballistic vest as the two exchanged fire, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said.
Sgt. Charles Hewell, who worked with Dixon that night, recalled the scene during the funeral. Hewell said he never heard Dixon scream or cry after the bullet struck. He remembers Dixon’s calm demeanor.
“My brother held on and fought longer than he should have. That’s just the fighter he was,” Hewell said. “I miss you dearly, brother. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you or do more for you.”
Hundreds of people, at least half in uniform, attended Dixon’s funeral. Couch opened with a Bible verse from John 15 about the love required to “lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”
“Sunday night, Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon was a living embodiment of this verse and much more,” Couch said.
A slideshow of photos gave a glimpse into Dixon’s personal life while a singer performed “The Weight of the Badge.” A selfie with fellow officers, blurry childhood photos and a snapshot of him holding an infant close to his chest flashed on video screens.
Dixon leaves behind a wife and two sons. Other family members, friends and fellow law enforcement spoke of Dixon’s dedication to serving others, his Christian faith and his humor. His younger brother, Jeremy Dixon, spoke about the deputy as a hero.
“Blane loved his family. He loved his job,” Jeremy Dixon said. “He was proud to put that badge on every day and serve his community.”
The Rev. Thomas Jordan, Dixon’s grandfather, also spoke at the funeral, saying Dixon “lived long enough to be loved, but not long enough.”