Slain FBI agent Dixon’s legacy lives on in Pittsburgh Field Office, 10K race fundraiser |

Slain FBI agent Dixon’s legacy lives on in Pittsburgh Field Office, 10K race fundraiser

An undated handout photo of FBI Agent Martha Dixon who was killed in the line of duty in 1994. The new field office of the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI was dedicated to her on Tuesday, November 20, 2001.

Every year for the past 20 years, Paul Dixon and his family have gathered on Nov. 22 to remember Martha Dixon, his sister and an FBI special agent originally from Mt. Lebanon who was killed while stopping a gunman.

“It’s a bitter memory to bring back up, and it’s tough doing this on a regular basis,” said Dixon, a Bethel Park councilman. “The way we live with it is we remember her for how she lived, rather than how we lost her.”

Family members plan to commemorate the anniversary of the shooting Friday at a memorial in Washington, where Dixon, a second agent, a police sergeant and the gunman all were killed 20 years ago this Saturday. Since then, they have worked to remember her athleticism and love of children by putting her name to causes she would have supported while alive.

Her legacy lives on: The FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office was named for Dixon when it opened in 2001; an annual 10K race has raised almost $150,000 for a foundation in her name; and playgrounds and athletic fields across Western Pennsylvania have been built or rehabilitated with her foundation’s funding.

On Nov. 22, 1994, a gunman entered the Washington Metropolitan Police Headquarters, made his way to the third-floor offices of the joint police/FBI Cold Case Homicide Task Force and started shooting.

Police Sgt. Hank Daily and FBI Special Agent Mike Miller were killed, and Brookline native and FBI Special Agent John Kuchta was critically wounded before Dixon ran from another part of the office to open fire on the gunman, who returned fire. Both were slain.

Every year for the past 18 years, Mt. Lebanon has hosted Martha’s Run on the second Saturday of April to raise money for the foundation. The Martha Fund has built or rehabilitated 18 playgrounds, with the first in Mt. Lebanon and others in Beltzhoover, Heidelberg, Cranberry and Pleasant Hills. An athletic field in Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park is named for the Mt. Lebanon High School graduate as well.

“The whole family’s involved in the race,” Paul Dixon said. “Even Martha’s got a part in it: She’s in charge of the weather.”

He said the race is popular because it usually occurs shortly before the Pittsburgh Marathon and many marathon runners sign up for the 10K as a warmup.

“I was not fortunate enough to know Martha personally, but in speaking with members of her family here in Pittsburgh, I have learned a great deal about her life and contributions to the bureau,” Scott S. Smith, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh Field Office, said in a statement.

“We are honored that the Pittsburgh Field Office bears her name. It serves as an inspiration to all of us who work here.”

Special Agent Gregory Heeb, spokesman for the Pittsburgh office, said he did not know whether any local agents would attend Friday’s service in Washington, but noted that annual ceremonies are held in the building’s atrium to honor both Dixon and Special Agent Samuel Hicks, who was killed during a drug raid in 2008.

Friday’s memorial service is at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.