Despite thousands of people packing Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg the late morning of March 9, a heavy silence filled the room.
Friends, family, law enforcement officers and other supporters gathered to say goodbye to Jacob Pickett, a Boone County Sheriff’s deputy who was killed during a pursuit March 2.
Pickett, 34, a Zionsville resident, husband and father of two, was the first BCSO deputy to fall in the line of duty since 1935. With his passing, his K-9 partner, Brik, has been retired from police work.
At the funeral, Gov. Eric Holcomb and BCSO Sheriff Michael Nielsen shared words of encouragement and memories along with U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, Pastor Steve Reeves and Tipton Police Dept. Officer Bradley Robins.
Prior to speaking, Nielsen paused at Pickett’s coffin and laid his hand on top of the flag for several moments.
“It is my greatest honor to serve beside the men and women of our office,” Nielsen said. “It was my greatest honor to serve with Jake. We all know that any day, we may make that ultimate sacrifice, but it has now happened to one of our family.”
Nielsen said that on his last morning, Pickett was finishing up a traffic stop when a fellow deputy asked him if he needed anything.
“Jake’s reply was, ‘It’s a beautiful morning, what else could I need?’” Nielsen said.
Following the funeral, a procession of hundreds of vehicles traveled 55 miles through Brownsburg, Lebanon, Whitestown, Zionsville, Carmel and Indianapolis to Pickett’s final resting place at Crown Hill Cemetery.
In Zionsville, supporters began lining Oak Street hours before the funeral procession arrived. Liz White was one of the first on the scene.
“I served in 9/11 at Ground Zero for seven weeks, so every moment that someone gives their life for service, it’s part of the work I do,” she said. “Each time there’s a sad funeral or tragedy like this, like today, it’s important to show the world that kindness and caring is greater than the bad that happens.”
White sat on the ground while an empty chair draped with an American flag rested beside her.
“Most of the time (law enforcement officers) don’t get support. They’re often faced with the things that don’t go right in the world, and they don’t often feel our presence and support,” White said. “We are behind them. Our hearts are with them.”
Two Duke Energy trucks flanked Oak Street to raise a massive American flag above the procession.
“Some of our linemen were moved by the passing of Deputy Pickett,” said Dan Rhodes, a spokesman for Duke Energy. “It’s the right thing to do. We wanted to show our support and let the officers know we support what they do, too.”
Throughout the week after Pickett’s death, community members gathered to show their support. In Zionsville, Kristen Kelley organized a luminary walk March 7 in Heritage Trail Park.
“A lot of people were looking for a way to pay their respects and wanted to do something and didn’t know what,” said Kelley, who lives near the Picketts. She said community members decorated and lit more than 3,000 luminaries.
In the Zionsville Police Dept., many officers are still processing the tragedy.
“The most important thing when something like this happens is to make sure officers are handling it and getting through the situation OK,” ZPD Capt. Robert Musgrave said. “Our primary focus is their well-being. We’re touched by this deeply, and our hearts hurt. We lost a fellow officer and brother. It truly is a brotherhood, and part of that family is gone now.”
Editor Ann Marie Shambaugh contributed to this report.
HOW TO HELP
Several organizations are providing ways for community members to support the Pickett family.
The Fifty Club of Boone County has established a memorial fund for the Picketts, and donations may be made at any local Key Bank location or at the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. Contributions may be made online at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=9lkgl7ojKhkpvaouQmr9HuRIRv36XIeDtYwDOT92GATS0qeV00KIUx_8iuqwpG4fL4wgc0&country.x=US&locale.x=US&Z3JncnB0=
Several Zionsville businesses are partnering for St. Patrick’s Day with a Purpose, with 10 percent of all sales March 17 being donated to the Pickett family. Participating businesses are bites, Cobblestone, Noble Order, Rush on Main and Salty Cowboy.
Pet Valu, 53 Boone Village, will hold a Celebration of Life event for Pickett from noon to 6:30 p.m. March 17. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Pickett family, and several organizations will be on-site, including the Humane Society for Boone County and Mended Hearts Rescue.
The Town of Whitestown is selling vehicle stickers for $5 in memory of Deputy Jacob Pickett, with all proceeds donated to the Pickett family.
Jen Pickett, the widow of BCSO Deputy Jacob Pickett, wrote an open letter to the community released March 12 to say thank you for the support:
“Over the last week, I have watched a community come together to celebrate and honor the man I love as a husband, father, and deputy. Many people have reached out to my family offering support and prayer. I feel the strength of those prayers each and every day and so do my boys. We lean into those prayers and into our faith in God during this unexplainable tragedy. We are surrounded by the strength of our family, law enforcement family, our church family, my school family, friends, and communities that Jake served and others that never knew him. These families and communities have wholeheartedly supported my family to honor my husband and his serving heart. For this support, I am eternally grateful.”