An Alabama community mourned a police officer who died last weekend when he was shot by a suspect during a chase.
Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner, 40, died Saturday following a wild Friday night chase with a murder suspect who opened fire on him and another cop, police said.
The tragedy began when Brian Lansing Martin, 41, shot killed an unidentified person and stole a car in Muscle Shoals, according to police.
Sheffield Police spotted the suspect and chased him behind a Walmart, where Risner and Sheffield police Lt. Max Dotson were shot during a gunfight, officials said.
Dotson was struck in his bulletproof vest, and was treated and released from the hospital, according to a statement.
“Sgt. Risner performed a heroic act by protecting the Shoal’s Community from the shooter from entering the Walmart parking lot,” Police Chief Ricky Terry wrote.
“If the shooter would have entered the Walmart parking lot, there is no telling how many lives would have been endangered or lost.”
Hundreds of people, including entire classrooms of school children, many of them waving American flags, lined up to honor the fallen officer during a procession in the community Monday.
Emma Gregory said Risner had talked her out of killing herself two years ago after he found her contemplating suicide on a bridge on his way home from work.
“I saw him as invincible. He was my literal superhero,” the young woman told WAAY-TV. “Until his last dying breath, he protected and he served, and he loved.”
Risner later kept in touch with Gregory and attended her graduation.
“It meant so much to me,” she told the outlet. “He hugged me and said, ‘I knew you could do it, and I told you you could do it, and you made it. You graduated.’”
Martin, who Chief Terry called “a coward” was arrested, but charges were not immediately filed against the suspected killer.
Risner, an Army Reserve veteran, served nine years with the department as a K9 officer, police said.
His body was taken to Birmingham so his organs could be donated, which didn’t surprise Dotson.
“Whether it’d be taking money out of his own pocket to pay for somebody’s meal or just getting out playing basketball with the kids,” the shooting survivor said.
Risner left behind a wife and daughter.
With Post wires