GARY — Twenty-one years after a Gary police detective was gunned down and five days after his killer was released from prison, family, friends and co-workers gathered to honor the ultimate sacrifice of an officer hailed as “our hero.”

An Honor Chair from Saving a Hero’s Place Inc. was unveiled Tuesday at the Gary police station during roll call to serve as a memorial to the late Detective Dorian D. Rorex, killed in the line of duty Jan. 15, 1998.

“This is a very meaningful day for me,” said Rorex’s son David, 22, who sought to have the chair made. “We want to make this about my father, about his life and sacrifice, instead of his killer being released.”

“This means a lot,” added Dorian Rorex Jr., 20, who was not born when his father died. “I was told about what he did, and we want to carry on that legacy in Gary.”

“This is a coming together for peace of mind,” said Linda Carrillo, Rorex’s widow. “(My son) David tried to put this together to give the sons a little peace and camaraderie.”

Detective Rorex, then 27, was shot when he and two other detectives working undercover were called to investigate a possible drug deal. Upon arrival, police saw Larry Dixon, then 24, walking in the street. Dixon fled when Detective Jack Hamady tried to confront him. Rorex and another officer joined in the chase, and Dixon fell in the snow. According to court records, Dixon panicked and fired a 9 mm semiautomatic weapon at Rorex. Police subsequently shot Dixon several times.

Rorex, shot three times, died later at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary.

Dixon, now 45, was released March 14 from Miami Correctional Facility near Bunkerhill, Indiana. He is on probation in Indianapolis and may not leave the city, police said.

Hamady, today a police commander, said the morning occasion is a “tough one for me,” adding that the chair is a “reminder of a hero that every day was serving the city of Gary.”

As Gary Police Chief Richard Allen, also on duty the night of Rorex’s shooting, reminded all officers, “With this job, at some point, you may have to pay that ultimate sacrifice. (Rorex) did his job without reservations.”

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The San Antonio-based Saving a Hero’s Place has been producing ornamental chairs to honor fallen police officers since 2013. David Rorex had contacted the group in mid-February about a chair for his father.

The Rorex chair is the 81st the group has made. Made from cherry wood, the chair features Rorex’s name, his signature, badge number and the date of his final call. Along with the seals of the Gary Police Department and the city of Gary, the chair includes this message: “The policeman is a peacetime soldier always at war.”

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Tommy Capell, president of Saving a Hero’s Place and a San Antonio police officer, explained the significance of the chair’s visibility during police roll call.

“When an officer makes the ultimate sacrifice, his/her presence is missed,” Capell stated. “The Honor Chair is placed in the roll call room as a reminder that even though they are not there physically, the officer will always be with you as you head out to the battles, carrying on the watch.”

Attending the chair unveiling were Rorex’s two sisters, Deborah Richardson and Deitra Rorex.

“I’m very proud of my brother and what he stands for still, and how his children were raised in a wonderful family," Richardson said. “He was our hero. He was loving, caring, kind, always trying to help someone.”

“He’ll never be forgotten,” Deitra Rorex added. “He was very devoted to his family, his friends and his job.”

A Marine who served in the Gulf War, Dorian Rorex was involved with an FBI task force; a SWAT team and Gary Response Initiative Team member; recording secretary in the local Fraternal Order of Police; and an honor guardsman.

The chair had been covered in black with a blue stripe prior to its unveiling. David Rorex, seeing his father’s chair for the fist time, said, “It took my breath away. It’s more than I expected. I’m happy everyone is looking at it as I am.”

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