JONESBORO, Ga. — Hundreds gathered at First Baptist Jonesboro Tuesday morning to honor the life of Clayton County Field Training Officer Henry Laxson.
A solemn crowd congregated as his body was escorted by horses onto the church grounds. Men playing bagpipes led the way inside following the funeral procession as mourners, friends, and family alike shared stores of the beloved fallen officer, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last month.
Several loved ones spoke at the ceremony, remembering Laxson as a man with a loving, outgoing personality and a zest for life.
"The post about him resembling a Labrador puppy, you hit it on the nail," his fiancé Stephanie Marino said.
Laxson proposed to Marino just a few weeks before his passing on Nov. 30. She said the couple had been together for 11 years.
"I know you will forever and ever remain in my heart as the love of my life," Marino said.
She echoed several speakers at the funeral, asserting her fiancé died doing what he felt he was born to do.
"He was a protector. Always smiling, always energetic, always happy," Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts said.
Roberts called the 27-year-old a "template for what a police officer should look like," insisting Laxson was as dedicated and passionate about his leadership in the police force as he was in his relationships with people.
A member of the SWAT, dive, and gang team with the police department, Roberts sang his praises for the fallen officer. He said even the officer's friends from grade school had nothing but positive things to say.
"He's described as the guy who stood up for students who were being picked on, already being the police," Roberts said.
In an emotional eulogy, Laxson's father Perry took the podium. He spoke of how he and his wife Denise will always remember their beloved son.
"We are proud of the man you have become," Perry said.
The deadly shooting took place in Rex, Georgia on Nov. 30, leaving four dead. A 12-year-old that had been shot in the face led Clayton County police to the scene. Laxson and officer Alex Chandler were both shot as police were immediately met with gunfire. The suspect was killed in the exchange.
Laxson died from his gunshot wound. Two women were also found dead at the scene.
Marino said she knows her late fiancé is looking down on her smiling and "dancing up there with god."
"Save me a seat up there, for a dancing partner," she said.
Clayton County Board of Commissioner’s Chairman Jeffery Turner called Laxson a "local hear" and presented a proclamation to the family while extending his condolences on behalf of the entire county.
"Family, you will now and forever will be a part of the Clayton County family. Make sure that a day, month, or year does not go by that if there’s ever a need, that you call upon us," Turner said.
An online fundraiser has been created following the officer's passing. Those interested in donating can find the fundraiser here.
"Henry was honorable — strike that. Henry is honorable. He lives," the emcee said.