Family of fallen Simpson County Deputy offers prayers to killer

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MENDENHALL, Miss. (WJTV) – The Blair family and hundreds of others in Simpson County are saying their final goodbyes to fallen deputy James Blair. Less than one week after the deputy was shot on duty escorting a disturbed man from Regions 8 Mental Health Services the family held his visitation.

Behind the Simpson County badge, he was a father, grandfather, great grandfather, husband, and brother. At 77 years of age, the family of deputy James Blair says you would have had to know the man to understand why he wouldn’t retire. 

77-Year-Old Deputy James Blair of Simpson County. Killed in the line of duty 6/12/2020.

“I don’t think he would have ever retired you couldn’t make him stop,” Deputy Blair’s grandson Daniel Smith said. 

Despite losing a father figure to three generations of their family, the Blair’s are finding peace with the situation and praying for the suspect who took his life. 

Suspect Joaquin Blackwell, accused of killing Deputy James Blair of Simpson County.

“Whatever issues he had I hope they come to peace with those,” Smith continued. “And I pray for his family as they’re going through a lot of stuff as well. It’s not easy for anybody these situations. I just hope that his family finds peace, I hope he finds peace.”

No matter how old he got, Smith and other relatives recall the endless phone calls Blair would send their way to check in every day.

“He could call you one time and have a missed call and when you called him back he would swear up and down he called you nine times and you didn’t want to talk to him,” Smith added. “And you didn’t love him no more putting him off. He would love to rag you and you know I’ll miss those calls.”

In less than a week the Blair family has been overwhelmed by the support across the state, some even from strangers, that remember interactions with deputy Blair as he protected the community. 

“He was always a caring and kind man at the basketball games, come down and talk with us before the games,” Mendenhall High School Alum Isaac Barnes said. “He would be like go out there and show off for Mendenhall tonight and do your thing, he never missed a game.”

Knowing he died doing what he loved helps the Blair family heal as they lay him to rest. Governor Reeves also took to twitter ordering all flags at half-staff to honor Blair’s sacrifice. 

Representative Michael Guest was also in attendance for deputy Blair’s visitation. If you would like to make a donation to help Blair’s family, you can do so by going to the Peoples bank in Mendenhall.

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