‘My baby was magnificent’: Mom still searching for answers 3 years after valedictorian killed at Springfield gas station

Vonette Nixon says she gets through the day by remembering that her 18-year-old son achieved big accomplishments

Dari’one Flanigan was shot at a BP gas station on June 26, 2019, and was driven to UF Health by a friend. He died at the hospital. If anyone has any information in connection with Dari'one's case, you are asked to call JSO or CrimeStoppers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A teen who graduated early and was valedictorian of his class was killed at a gas station on North Main Street three years ago. His family is still searching for answers.

Dari’one Flanigan was shot at a BP gas station on June 24, 2019, and was driven to UF Health by a friend. He died at the hospital.

Vonette Nixon, Dari’one’s mother, still recalls the last time she spoke to her son, who attended Zarephath Academy and was 18 years old when he died. She had no idea the conversation would be their last.

“Once I replayed back in my mind the conversation that we had, it was like God was kind of preparing us, and we just didn’t know it,” Nixon said.

Later that evening in 2019, Nixon received a phone call while she was on the phone with her husband. The person on the line told her Dari’one had been shot and was unresponsive. Nixon said she knew already that her son was dead.

“When I got to the hospital it was on lockdown due to the young man driving them to the hospital,” Nixon explained. “I waited on the doctors and that’s when we got the information that basically Dari’one, he wasn’t going to make it. He passed at 8:22. And at that moment, I was just -- I was devastated.”

Dari'one Flanigan with his mom Vonette Nixon (WJXT)

According to News4JAX records, the media was notified 48 hours after the shooting, leaving Nixon feeling that law enforcement failed her family because the delay could have affected witnesses coming forward.

“Three days had gone by before anyone even knew besides his family and close friends that he was actually deceased,” Nixon said. “So, therefore, anything that could have happened over here or if anybody could have seen anything, no one really knows at this point.”

After three years with her questions still unanswered, Nixon continues to keep Dari’one’s name alive. She holds an Easter event called “TroubleCho” every year that provides free Easter baskets to kids. Nixon said since Dari’one loved kids, it’s her way to honor him.

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Along with being valedictorian, Dari’one was also an aspiring rapper.

“My baby was magnificent,” Nixon said. “We called him an all-around kid. Dari’one could go anywhere. Dari’one’s spirit was just like a social butterfly. He was in church. He was an average 18-year-old kid. He liked the girls. He liked the fashion, of course. Unfortunately, it was just a point where this incident happened. He’s truly missed.”

News4JAX reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for comment on the status of Dari’one Flanigan’s case, but we have not received a reply.

If anyone has any information in connection with Dari’one’s case, you are asked to call JSO at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.