Like rolling thunder, hundreds of motorcycle engines revved up one by one Saturday morning as riders prepared to honor fallen Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon.
“Especially when they gave the salute, it just gave me goosebumps,” said Adam McDaniel, the sergeant at arms for the Punishers law enforcement motorcycle club, watching along with the club’s vice president Bob Rickard.
Motorcyclists ride in memory of Deputy Nicolas Blane DixonRiders participate in the Punishers LEMC benefit event for the family of fallen Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at Frazier's Harley-Davidson in Buford.
The deputy’s father, Fred Dixon III, rode toward the front on a Kawasaki Vaquero followed by other law enforcement riders and members of various motorcycle groups in the area.
The ride began after 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Frazier’s Harley-Davidson on Friendship Road. The route continued on to Interstate 985 northbound, Ga. 365, Mud Creek Road and Old Cornelia Highway before looping back to the start.
Heath Migliore, a former law enforcement officer with Gainesville Police and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, attended with members of nonprofit Revenant.
Revenant bills itself as a “brotherhood comprised of men who share an affinity for the open road and equal compassion for the less fortunate in our community.”
Migliore said with little time to prepare, the event’s size was “unprecedented.”
“We’re going to do everything we can as a club to support the family, and the Punishers have done a good thing in a short amount of time. … To bring all these patches together, it’s just going to generate more awareness about what’s going on with these cops out there and the loss. We see it every day on Facebook and social media about cops getting killed or officers down, but when it happens in your own backyard and you know them, that kind of brings it home,” he said.
Dixon was fatally shot July 7 in an exchange of gunfire in Gainesville after pulling over a car and chasing four suspects on foot. Police have said the car was stolen, and a preliminary investigation has shown a pawn shop burglary, in which a large number of firearms were stolen, is connected.
“We wanted to put together a ride not only dedicating everyone to the life and honoring Deputy Dixon but also to put together and promote a charity event where we would basically do 100% of any of the funds that are raised and give to his family,” said Rob Johnson of the Punishers.
Johnson estimated Saturday that between 500 and 800 riders were expected to ride. Some participants provided aerial and drone support for video and photographs, and the event had a number of restaurant donations to feed attendees.
Johnson said the event was “definitely a testimonial to show how the … motorcycle community can come together and support a fallen officer.”