AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - Saying goodbye to a fallen hero
The city of Americus was painted blue Sunday morning as a procession for Officer Nicholas Smarr traveled through the city.
Less than a mile away from where he took his last breath, friends, family and the law-enforcement community gathered to remember Smarr.
Even former president Jimmy Carter and his beloved Rosalynn sat in the crowd.
The community has just now started putting the pieces back together following the tragic loss of two police officers in the line of duty, Officer Smarr and Officer Jody Smith.
Following the service in Georgia Southwestern State University's dome, a horse-drawn caisson carried Smarr's body to his final resting place.
The streets were lined with people honoring one of the officers and his last patrol around the city that he served.
"It tore this city apart. Tore it absolutely apart," said resident Robert Ridgway.
Hundreds of citizens and law enforcement officers paid their last respects to Officer Smarr during a three mile journey, with the sounds of sirens, visions of blue lights and over 100 patrol cars from different counties across the state, honoring a brother in blue: a fitting tribute for a fallen hero.
"They are the ones that protect us here at home," explained Ridgway. "Just like the soldiers do overseas."
"They come out and they risk their life for you, everyday," said resident Jordan Carter.
It was an opportunity for remembrance of his sacrifice to the community and a final farewell.
"I'm just here to pay some respect where respect is due," said high school student Bradley Kitchens.
"When something like this happens, we need to bring America together," said Ridgway.
Officer Smarr was on the force for over two years
He made his final trip through Americus in a procession.
The caravan began at 9:30 a.m. and took a little over 30 minutes, running from the Greg Hancock Funeral Home to the funeral site on Tripp Street.
"It's scary when this can happen in a town I've grown up and lived in for 18 years," said Jordan. "It happened five miles away from my house."
A community is mourning, but residents hope their home city will heal.
"Everybody has been praying for Americus," explained Jordan. "I can tell you, we need a whole lot more of that."
"It's an amazing thing to see the community come together for such a tragedy as this," said Pastor Rhys Key.
Key is a pastor at a local church. He said he's been impressed with how much his community has done for the fallen officers and their families.
"It just shows that when the chips are down people will respond," explained Key.
Community members held back pain and tears to stand tall together and back the blue.
"This is just something minor that we can do to show them how important they are," said GSW Professor Mark Grimes.
And give the Smarr family a reminder that although Nicholas Smarr lost his life, he has saved so many more.
"What they did for my city and what they have done for our country is unbelievable," said Kitchens.
Residents have had a week they will never forget.
The take away from the tragic event, remembering a man who died doing what police officers do every day, protecting the people.
A community comes together in the face of tragedy
The community of Americus watched as Smarr's casket was transferred to the caisson and brought to his final resting point.
Residents lined the street, showing their respect and offering their condolences.
Law enforcement members joined family and friends and marched down the street before saying a final goodbye to one of their own.
Members of the community said that they wouldn't have wanted to spend the afternoon anywhere else.
"It's been really neat. You look at these folks up and down the street and to know that people care about people, and that's what it's really all about," said Grimes.
The community has shown its support at the police department as well, with a memorial that continues to grow.
The nation mourns with the Americus community
The New York Yankees offered their condolences to Smarr's family over the weekend.
The Americus Police Department posted photos of flowers sent to the family and APD, with the message:
Governor Nathan Deal tweeted that an executive order lowering flags to half-staff will be issued once funeral arrangements for fallen Officer Jody Smith have been made.
Flags were ordered to be at half staff for Officer Smarr until sunset on Sunday.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made for Officer Jody Smith.
Honoring the families of the men who did so much for the community
Members of the community have made blue ribbons.
They have been sold around the city and all money raised has gone directly to the families of the fallen officers.
There is at least one fund set up in honor of Nicholas Smarr.
Donations in his honor can be made to the Nick Smarr Trust Fund at SB&T Bank, which is a division of Synovus Bank.
You can make donations at any SB&T or Synovus Bank locations.
Reports have said that relief funds have been set up at Citizens Bank of Americus in memory of both officers.
People can donate to the funds to help the families of Smarr and Smith.