Minister wounds 2 in shootout
He agonizes over shooting brothers at Grand Park football field; their mother says, 'Tell him I am thankful.'
By BRIDGET MURPHY, The Times-Union
Sixty-three-year-old grandfather Joe Dixon clutched a Bible as he sat in his Jacksonville home Friday and, after a sleepless night, asked himself yet again:
"Why did I do this? Why did this happen? I'm a preacher. I'm a Christian. I try to do things right. I don't like to see people get hurt."
A short drive away, two brothers, one 17 and the other 18, were in hospital beds at Shands Jacksonville. One was fresh from the operating room, the other being prepped for the same treatment: surgery to implant a pin in his leg after police said a bullet from Dixon's gun tore into it Thursday.
Police arrested Dimitri Lamar Gauldin, 18, of the 4800 block of Walcott Avenue, and Devin Lavaughn Gauldin, 17, of the 4900 block of Campenella Drive, charging both with aggravated assault. The older brother also faces a second felony of firing a gun from a vehicle in public.
The shooting on the football field at Grand Park on Henrietta Street came as more than two dozen children practiced -- Dixon's 9-year-old grandson and the brothers' 11-year-old sibling among them.
After a pushing match that witnesses said involved the brothers and at least one football coach, police said the brothers took out guns and fired at an unidentified person with whom it's believed they wanted to settle a score.
The gunfire sent cheerleaders, football players, parents and coaches scrambling. Dixon himself left, helping his grandson into his vehicle while noticing the gunmen walking back to their black Crown Victoria just a few yards away.
Dixon, a Bethel Baptist Institutional Church preacher who has a concealed weapons permit, told his grandson to hit the floor of their Toyota Sequoia.
Then he made the choice he lived over and over Friday.
"I went toward their car and told them, 'You're not going anywhere,'" Dixon said Friday, recalling how he showed the teens his gun.
Then they started shooting, Dixon said, with one bullet hitting his vehicle.
So he returned fire, with a bullet finding its mark in Dimitri's leg, who fell out of the now-fleeing Crown Victoria.
Dixon said he made the man drop his gun before the car circled back.
But Dixon had time to reload and as Devin scooped his brother off the ground, the grandfather had words for the younger brother as he held them both at gunpoint.
"I told him, 'Both of you all are going to stay here until the police get here.'"
But Devin tried to grab the gun Dixon had made Dimitri toss away. So Dixon squeezed off another round, which struck Devin in the leg.
As sirens wailed in the distance, the Crown Victoria sped away, with, police believe, three other men inside.
As Dixon read from a well-worn Bible, one he's used to help share scripture with juvenile deliquents as part of a jail ministry he has been part of for years, he said Friday that he wants to help the brothers turn their lives around.
That may be the only reason God arranged such a meeting Thursday, he said.
"I wasn't going out there to be nobody's hero. I was trying to be a peacemaker. ... It wasn't about me. It was about those children, my grandson, and the people in the park."
But despite his faith, Dixon said he was still struggling to find peace.
So the retiree, who grew up in one of the city's toughest housing projects, did one of the things he does best.
"Let the mother of those kids know that they're in prayers," Dixon said. "Although they were wrong, somebody loves them and I'm praying for those boys and the boys that got away too so they come to Jesus. I'm just a plain old man that come up in the Blodgett Homes and just made it in life now. I'm here now, but I used to be over there."
A short drive away, fresh from a visit to Shands Jacksonville, the mother of the brothers cried when she got his message.
"It's hard. It's hard," said Tonya Frazier, 36. "... I thank God that it is this situation instead of me having to bury my children Saturday. I'm in disbelief right now. I feel pain for my children. I am thankful he did not kill my children."
"Tell him," she said of Dixon, sobs choking her voice, "Tell him I am thankful."
He should have called the police...
At the point when they went back to their car, no one was in immediate danger. He should have called the police and maintained a safe distance. If he had fired when they were shooting, I'd have no problem with what he did.
Originally Posted by Wyoming