TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Residents from Tupelo, the surrounding area and even out of state took time this afternoon to pay their respects to the first police officer killed in the line of duty in Tupelo.
On most weekdays, downtown Tupelo is busy, but on this Friday, two days after Christmas, there was stillness and silence, as people lined both sides of Main Street to say goodbye to a true hero.
“It’s a tragedy, we are not used to it around here in Tupelo,” said Bobby Tolleson, of Mantachie.
They lined both sides of the 1.8 mile funeral procession. Most were from Northeast Mississippi, but some of the mourners were from out of state. Allison Wade grew up in Tupelo, but now lives in Atlanta. Her brother is on the Tupelo Police Force.
She says it’s not surprising to see the strong show of support for those behind the badge.
“I am so happy as we sat at Christmas and we talked about the situation, that’s one of the things on the news they were showing, how the community had come together and donated food and other things and I am so happy to even say that I am from this area,” Wade said.
Tupelo residents Nathan and Cathy Duncan felt it was important to take time to honor the fallen officer and those who sacrifice so much, everyday.
“This is a senseless tragedy, out of respect for all law enforcement people and particularly the one who died, we wanted to show our respects and we brought our flag from our house. It’s just a tragic thing, I’m so sorry for him and his family,” Nathan Duncan said.
There were a lot of families along Sergeant Stauffer’s procession. Parents say they have tried to explain the events of the past week to their children.
“I’m trying to explain to the children, that the man gave his life trying to save others and it was a situation he couldn’t help ,” Tolleson said.
“It’s hard to explain to her that another little girl is going to bed at night without her daddy to say a prayer , without her daddy to read her a story , all because of someone who had no respect for life, authority, who chose a dollar over someone’s life,” said Tupelo resident Nikki Abney, who was along the route along with her husband and 6 year old daughter.
It’s estimated more than 1,000 people lined the funeral procession, people of all ages, and backgrounds, who are unified in support of those who protect and serve and one who made the ultimate sacrifice.