With the playing of “Taps,” candles, tears and a prayer forgiving those who sin, The Johnson City Police Department and their community gathered after the first day in more than 18 years without Officer David Smith on the force. Smith was killed on patrol a day earlier. He was 43 years old.
“Yesterday's events shook us to our very core and left a void that cannot be filled,” said Lieutenant Michael Hatch as he fought back tears.
“He was one of those people, when you first met him it was like he was your friend right off the bat,” said Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie. “He always had a smile; he was always in a good mood. He did a great job.”
For some of the hundreds gathered outside the police station, Smith was a father, husband, family member, or friend. But to most, he was a stranger—who died protecting their community.
”I believe the police do a very good job of supporting us and keeping us safe,” said Pat Antal of Johnson City, who said she also came to show support for Smith’s family.
Police say Officer Smith was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance at a healthcare facility. The shooter was killed after exchanging gunfire with police who responded later.
A day later, signs of the community's sorrow were everywhere. Many local businesses used their signs to post their support.
Officer Smith's family and fellow officers declined to speak on camera. But the mayor said they thank those who literally surrounded them with care.
“They thank the people for their support,” said Deemie. “It shows how much these men and women in blue really mean to this community and how important they are. It also shows (the family) that the community really does support them.”
One of Smith's fellow officers said this is something none of them want to go through. Tuesday, the community showed them they won't have to go through it alone.
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