GAINESVILLE – The horrific news that a law enforcement officer has been killed in the line of duty shakes an entire community.
That’s especially true when it’s been nearly a century since it happened last.
At Monday’s news conference held in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon, 28, the evening before, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch was visibly shaken.
“First and foremost, we ask that you keep Nicolas’s family and our department in your prayers,” Couch said. “There are simply no words to express the profound grief that his loss brings each of us.”
Dixon was a three year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, and the father of two sons, aged 9-years and 4-months.
Members of the Hall County Commission attended the news conference; Commissioner Kathy Cooper was especially grieved by the news of Dixon’s death. Dixon was a close friend of her son who is also a Hall County Deputy.
“I guess the hardship for me is that my son has served in this capacity and was friends with this young man,” Cooper said, as she fought back tears. “When you get a phone call at 1:30 in the morning, um, I was grateful it was my son calling me and not someone calling me about my son.”
“I grieve for his family; I pray for them; I know everyone in the community has a big heart for him right now,” Cooper added.
Earlier that morning, at Highland Avenue where the second suspect was taken into custody by Hall County deputies, a man wearing house slippers paced nervously along Hazel Street. He paused on occasion, straining to catch a glimpse beyond the crime scene tape.
He, too, was affected by the shooting. His elderly parents lived next door to the house beneath which the second suspect was discovered hiding. He declined to share his name, but with obvious tones of concern he asked in broken English what was happening.
He confided that he had spoken via cell phone to his parents who were understandably scared, not knowing the nature of the heavy police presence. The house-slippered man could only ask if his parents were in danger.
Media personnel tried to comfort the man. He eventually was able to understand what had happened and to breathe a sigh of relief that his family was safe.
The effect Sunday evening’s tragedy has on a community can be as wide as it is deep. Gainesville and Hall County are not immune; but Gainesville and Hall County are notorious for having a heart that cares.
The sheriff said, “We will make sure that we take care of his (Deputy Dixon) family as he has taken care of all of ours.”
Additional efforts to help the Dixon Family will be shared here at AccessWDUN as they develop.