LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — All day Saturday people stopped by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office to honor Deputy Jacob Pickett, who the sheriff said will not survive his injuries after being shot in the line of duty on Friday.
It began with a procession, with Deputy Jacob Pickett’s squad car brought back where it belongs: the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.
Two cranes held up a giant American flag. Below, deputies held one another and community members, weeping for their lost hero. And next to them, a memorial with hundreds of flowers, teddy bears, American flags and letters to Pickett.
“Absolutely heartbreaking,” said Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen. “Our souls are torn apart.”
Some of the people who stopped by knew Pickett.
“He always made you smile, and he did a darn good job at his job,” said
Others who stopped by did not know him.
“Praying for officers around the country, whether being in Indiana or not, trying times,” said Nicholas Harmon, from Frankfort.
Harmon is in school and wants to be a state trooper. He brought two dozen donuts for the sheriff’s office.
“Because we know they’re working around the clock right now and how hard of a time it is for them,” he said.
That support extends. The sheriff’s office will get some help protecting the roads and the jail while they grieve.
“Agencies across this state have come together to support us,” said Nielsen, specifically mentioning IMPD, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
The families of 20 Boone County first responders and the county prosecutor’s office lined two miles of streets with blue ribbons and American flags.
“We wanted to do something, and this is our way of doing it,” said Kim Funk, who works for the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office.
Brooke Carlson, whose husband is a Lebanon police officer, brought her two kids to help. She said it’s important for them all to support the sheriff’s office.
“Tomorrow it could be us,” she said.
As day turned to night, people continued to show up. That included a sheriff’s deputy, with his K-9, saluting a photo of Pickett by his squad car.
Pickett had a K-9 named Brik.
Tough days lie ahead for the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. But they’re not alone. Saturday night, several dozen people holding candles listened as one member of the community spoke, saying they all need to be behind the department.
Nielsen said the Pickett family, Jacob’s wife and two children, have felt the outpouring of support. Jacob’s wife had a message for everyone.
“So her personal message to everyone is thank you,” said Sheriff Nielsen.
Sheriff Nielsen later released a letter to the community:
Finally, I have an opportunity to sit down and address this great community we live in. I have reflected upon the last thirty-six hours and have found that I am at a loss for words. Thirty-six hours that will change so many lives in this community forever.
The BCSO has lost one of our family. The thin blue line was shattered. I want you to know that your law enforcement community came together yesterday and went to war against evil and they performed flawlessly. You can be proud of every one of them. The fire and EMS units were beyond reproach and worked tirelessly to save Jake.
There are no words that feel adequate to express how that feels to each of us when we lose part of our family. I talked to many people last night including the children in the community. Jake was special to each of us for different reasons and special to all of us for the same reasons-his warm heart, huge smile, love for our children, honor to the badge, love for his community and for his K-9 Brick. There will forever be a loss felt in our community for him. He was a warrior and he died laying down his life for you. He will never be forgotten.
The days, weeks, months, and years ahead will be difficult. We will need to rely on our community to heal the broken hearts. It will get better but we will never fully recover from such a devastating tragedy, we will never forget because we lost one of our own.
As I struggle to make sense of any of this, I question why things like this happen to good people? Although the outcome was tragic, I take comfort in knowing Jake was running behind Brik, giving commands to “Pakken” to get the suspect…. doing what he loved and knowing his partner was there beside him. In the end, Brik was there by Jake’s side…doing what Brik loved…. protecting his partner to the end.
I want the community to know that Jake constantly strived to be the best leader that he could be by always putting others before himself. Yesterday I witnessed one of the most tragic incidents in my career and we are devastated and heartbroken, just as you are within the community. I will continue to gain my strength from Jake, knowing that he wanted to complete his mission with passion, dedication, and commitment. He lived each one of our Sheriff’s Office value points every day – Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Professionalism, and Commitment. For this is where I will continue to draw my strength, courage, and drive to complete our difficult mission over the next several days. My hope is that each of you will do the same.
I have always been proud to be associated with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office but over the last 36 hours, I am now even more so. The outpouring of support we have received from our community is incredible. Jake’s wife Jen wishes to extend a personal “thank you” to each of you.
On behalf of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, we are beyond grateful.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Sheriff Mike Nielsen
Churches in Lebanon announced Saturday they’d hold a community prayer night on Sunday. Click here for more information.