HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Hundreds of people gathered outside an Alabama police department on Sunday to honor a police officer killed while conducting a drug enforcement operation.
Mourners gathered near the Fallen Officer Memorial at the Huntsville Police Department to honor officer Billy Fred Clardy III, killed in the line of duty just like his father, Al.com reported. Police have said the 48-year-old legacy officer and Army veteran was fatally shot Friday during a drug buy set up by authorities at a home where they expected a suspect to drop off a large amount of drugs. Police said the suspect instead shot Clardy and unsuccessfully tried to flee on foot.
“He is now in heaven, still watching over us — his city, his community, his country and his family of first responders,” said Mark Hooper, co-founder of vigil host and nonprofit Thin Line Support.
Clardy joined the department in 2005 after serving in the military and other law enforcement agencies, police Chief Mark McMurray previously said. He served as a community police officer and joined the drug task force last year.
Thousands of people across the country have sent messages of support and condolences to the city and police department since the shooting, Mayor Tommy Battle said.
“Many prayers went up all over this nation for the Huntsville Police Department, city of Huntsville, our community and most especially for the Clardy family,” Battle said. “We need to keep them in our prayers.”
Clardy is survived by his five children and wife, whom the police chief and other local leaders met with Sunday, McMurray said.
Clardy's funeral service is set for Tuesday, and the city is expected to broadcast the services live. His name will be engraved next to a brick that commemorates his father, who died in an on-duty car crash in 1978, according to the newspaper.
Police have arrested and charged LaJeromeny Brown, 41, from Tennessee, with capital murder in Clardy's death. It's unclear if he has a lawyer.