A stream of Blue traveled through Jackson County on Monday, Nov. 15, honoring the memory of fallen deputy Lena Nicole Marshall. Community members lined the streets along the route from Jefferson to Braselton holding flags, “back the blue” signs, and memorials to the fallen officer.

Marshall, a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was killed in the line of duty after a shooting during a domestic call Nov. 5. She died on Monday, Nov. 8. Deputy Marshall, 49, of Jefferson, is the first female law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in Jackson County.

Deputy Marshall's tenure at the JCSO began in 2020. She had previously worked for the Barrow County Sheriff's Office, Winder Police Department, Helen Police Department and Habersham County Sheriff's Office.

Hundreds of public safety vehicles from agencies across the state were part of the processional, which spanned 16 miles and lasted about 30 minutes. The stream of vehicles stretched so far that at one point, officers directing traffic had to pause the processional at the Hwy. 124/Hwy. 53 intersection to allow time for the North Carolina Caisson Unit to take Deputy Marshall's body from Memorial Park Funeral Home to Free Chapel, where services were held.

The ceremony for the fallen officer included a gun salute, helicopter flyover and an end-of-watch call. “Taps” was played, along with “Amazing Grace.” Sheriff Janis Mangum presented the folded flag that had been placed upon Marshall’s casket to her three children.

The service also had some personal touches, with Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” playing throughout. Photos of a smiling Marshall with her family and friends were shown and flowers framed either side of her casket.

‘SHE WAS A HERO’

Sheriff Mangum, was among those to officiate the service, along with Marshall’s friends Lauren Stephens and Rob Peladeau. A statement was also read on behalf of Deputy Zac Billings, the second deputy on the scene when Deputy Marshall was shot.

"On Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at approximately 9:20 p.m., the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was changed forever,” Sheriff Mangum said. "Deputy Lena Marshall and Deputy Zac Billings responded to a domestic call. The worst thing that could possibly happen did happen.”

Mangum said that Marshall was "doing what she loved that night and protecting the people of Jackson County."

Deputy Marshall was training Deputy Billings during the domestic call Nov. 5. Sheriff Mangum noted that Billings ran into danger that night, returning fire and killing the shooter, Jessica Worsham.

"That is what law enforcement officers do. While others are in the safety of their home, there are brave men and women who are protecting you in every minute of every day,” Mangum said.

Mangum said it takes a servant’s heart to be in law enforcement. She added that Deputy Marshall had that servant’s heart.

“She loved her job, she gave it all she had all the time. She didn’t back down from anything,” Mangum said.

Marshall’s friends, Stephens and Peladeau, offered a personal perspective on Marshall’s legacy.

“Nicole loved being a cop and she was a d**n good one. But she was so much more than the uniform that she wore,” said Stephens.

Stephens added that Marshall was a great friend who always made sure her friends and family knew they were loved.

“If you don’t have a friend like her, you’ve gotta find one,” Stephens said. “You’ll only need one. Trust me.”

Stephens said she couldn’t remember ever hanging up the phone with Marshall or leaving without her saying “I love you.” That was evident in one of the stories Stephens shared about Marshall.

On the night of the shooting, Stephens and Marshall had been texting right before the shooting took place.

“We finished our conversation and I said ‘I love you, be safe.’ And at 9:18, I looked at my phone and it said ‘Love you too, always,’” Stephens recalled.

The domestic call came in at 9:20 p.m.

All who spoke during the service noted Marshall’s commitment to her four children, Chelsea, Colten, Kiley and Austin. Austin died several years ago, also on Nov. 8.

“She fiercely loved Chelsea, Colten, Kiley and Austin,” said Stephens. “She would have gone to the ends of the earth to protect them from the hurt that they’re feeling right now.”

Peladeau said he sees a lot of Marshall’s love in her children.

“To watch that family interaction, the sibling interaction, the level of love and affection between these ones…is just epic,” Peladeau said. “…There is nothing but love and that’s just a testament to how much she poured into all those kids.”

Marshall’s friends also spoke of her love for Jack Daniels and cigarettes; her homemade chili and chicken salad; and her authenticity.

“Lena had no problem being Lena,” said Peladeau. “She was 100% her every minute of every day. She never put on airs. She didn’t change to be around anybody.”

Peladeau added that she was tenacious, tough, and a little gritty, but said she had a soft heart as well.

“That rugged, tough, bada** chick on the outside, cried like a baby at the sight of a puppy,” he said.

According to several people close to Marshall, she was an avid dog lover and enjoyed working with K9 units during her career.

Peladeau described Marshall as “legendary” and a hero, both in life and in her passing.

“She was a hero, not only to this community, but even in her passing,” he said, noting that Marshall’s organs helped several other people.

Peladeau and Stephens encouraged those attending the services to honor Marshall’s life by showing love to one another.

“If you loved Nicole, or just even respected her, the best way that we can honor her is to live life as unapologetically real as we can and as she did,” said Stephens. “Live your life, wholly. Tell people that you love them. Tell them so much it’s weird. Take pictures of everything. Talk to random strangers. Do the things you’re scared to do. Do the hard things. Make your life the best story in the world and don’t waste it. She never wasted a drop and we’re all better because of it.”

ASSISTANCE FOR FAMILY

The "Deputy Lena Nicole Marshall Benefit Fund" has been set up at the Northeast Georgia Bank, 1775 Old Pendergrass Road, Jefferson. Donations can be made at any Northeast Georgia Bank.

A GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com/f/cc94gc-from-our-families-to-yours) was also set up shortly after the shooting. Over $73,000 has been donated to the family on the GoFundMe page.

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