BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Hundreds gathered as Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler was laid to rest Thursday with a hero’s sendoff.
Chandler was shot and killed Saturday in the line of duty.
Earlier this week, law enforcement from across Southwest Virginia honored the 29-year-old on Monday as Chandler’s body was escorted from Roanoke back to Big Stone Gap.
On Wednesday night, Chandler’s funeral was held at the David J. Prior Convocation Center on the campus of UVA-Wise.
On Thursday, the hearse carrying his body was followed by a procession that stretched more than 7 miles from downtown to the cemetery where he was laid to rest, according to WCYB.
Members of police and fire departments from hundreds of miles away such as Virginia Beach, Jefferson County, Tennesse and even Elkhorn City, Kentucky, came to Southwest Virginia to pay their respects.
“It could be any of us anytime. We’ve all been the same situation he was in. When you hear something like that does happen, especially something local, you want to show your support,” said Cedar Bluff Police Chief Michael Brown, whose jurisdiction is about 90 minutes away from Big Stone Gap. “Most of us here, we probably went to the same academies together. We go to training together. Also, he was a firefighter as well. He was on the fire department and so am I. There’s a lot of firefighters here as well. It’s a small group.”
A large American flag was hung above the road and people lined the streets with even more flags.
“He’s a fine officer. We’ve had instances where we’ve had to call him and he came. He’s always been there,” said Miranda Deboard, who lives in Big Stone Gap.
The procession ended at Powell Valley Memorial Gardens, where Chandler was laid to rest in a private ceremony, surrounded by family and hundreds of officers and firefighters.
“It’s very sad, very sad. This young man lost his life doing what he loved, which is to support and uphold justice in the community,” said Deboard.