Boston-- Flags fly at half mast, and its all quiet at the Boston police department. The accidental but fatal shooting that took place here just days ago sent shock waves through the small community. "When I first heard it, you know. . . Sorrow came into my heart," says Willie Clemson, a lieutenant with the Quitman Police Department, of his friend's death.
In neighboring Brooks county, several Quitman police officers worked closely with Suarez over the years. Monday they wore black bands over their badges in his memory. "That's a brother in law enforcement. We're just like one big family," Clemson says.
At one time, Suarez was chief of the department. Many times there would only be one officer on duty, but Suarez was always willing to be there as backup. "If I had to stop a car, or have a building to go clear, open a door or something, he'd tell me wait, he'd be there in 2 or 3 minutes and he was always there," says Investigator Robert Jordan.
Clemson adds, "he always had that radio by him at all times, he was very dedicated to the department. And to law enforcement." And to the town he loved.
Joann Saunders worked as Suarez's asisstant for seven years. "Al was all for trying to get out into the community, do things with the community, do things for the community," Saunders says.
He may be gone, but he leaves behind valuable lessons. "I learned a lot from Al. A lot of interview strategies, ways to work investigations. I learned a lot from him," says Jordan.
Saunders adds, "Al taught me compassion and caring in law enforcement. It's not all rough and tumble."
Jordan sums up his friend when he says, "I don't know of a better man working in law enforcement."
Officer Suarez' funeral is Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at Boston Baptist Church.