NEW ORLEANS -- It was an emotional scene outside Lakelawn Funeral Home Wednesday, as loved ones -- alongside hundreds of law enforcement personnel from across the state -- said goodbye to fallen St. John Parish Deputy Brandon Nielsen.
"Brandon was just an awesome person. He was a great dad, but he was just a great, great coworker, a great deputy," said Lester Wilson, a deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, where Nielsen worked for several years.
Wilson described Nielsen as selfless, caring and often times, a character.
"He'd do anything for anyone and every time you'd see him, he was always uplifted, upbeat about everything, always a smile, always making us laugh," Wilson said.
Last week, Nielsen and fellow deputy Jeremy Triche died in a hail of gunfire, as they were ambushed at a trailer park near LaPlace.
The incident hit home for police officers across the state and beyond.
"It sends chills through your mind," said Westwego Police Officer Joseph Fennidy. "There's a thin blue line and the brotherhood runs deep and whether you know him or not, when you have to face something like this, it's hard."
Nielsen leaves behind a wife, five children and many great friends like Wilson, who fought back tears while describing the moment he learned the devastating news.
"Well, I literally almost stopped breathing because, you can say things about people all the time, but it's after they're gone, you realize how great they are really, and this man was a God-fearing, blessed man," Wilson said.