Between the nationwide protests calling for the defunding of police departments and the recent killing of an Alabama police officer, times have been tough for law enforcement personnel in the state.
Amid all of the turmoil, one heartfelt gesture brightened the lives of four officers with Alabama’s Pell City Police Department.
Sgt. Shenandoah McInnish told The Western Journal that the four officers — himself, along with Cpl. Barry Wathen and officers Isaiah Johnson and Joshua Wheeler — were enjoying breakfast together at a local Cracker Barrel “as a team and as a family” June 7 when a man approached their table and volunteered to pay for their meals.
The man made the gesture out of respect for their service and to offer condolences for the death of Moody Police Department Sgt. Stephen Williams, a husband and father of three who was shot and killed June 2, according to AL.com.
So we are eating at Cracker Barrel this morning. There are 4 officers behind us eating. And this middle aged black man…
“With everything that’s going on and what happened with the officer in Moody, this gentleman, he decided he was going to buy us breakfast,” McInnish said.
Stunned by the generosity of the gesture, McInnish asked the man, “Sir, you sure?”
The man replied, “You give me them tickets, I got this,” McInnish recounted.
“It’s on me,” the man added.
“I was kind of overtaken with the moment. So were my guys. I got up and hugged his neck, they followed suit. He thanked us for what we did and he said, ‘I want to thank you guys for your service,'” McInnish said.
“He looked at me, kind of looked at the guys and with emotion in his voice, said, ‘I’m really sorry about what happened to that officer in Moody.'”
McInnish went on to explain what the experience meant to him, what it meant the other officers who were present and what the gesture said about their community as a whole.
“It was just a beautiful moment, you know? I didn’t think to ask him his name, didn’t think to go into any more detail. I guess me and my guys were just kind of touched by the moment,” he said.
“I’m glad everybody was able to see it. Man, we got a good chief here, he takes care of his officers. We’ve got a wonderful relationship with our citizens. They love us, we love them. Every officer I work with here in Pell City is out to make a difference, man. That was just a way for that one guy to come in and — he touched us.
“We were just kind of taken aback and just got entranced in that moment. It was a beautiful moment.”
The citizens of Moody, Alabama, showed love and support for their police officers as well on June 8 when they gathered together in memory of Sgt. Williams.
More than 500 people are packed into Moody First Baptist Church for the funeral service of Lt. Stephen Williams. Another 500 are expected to watch the service from the Moody Civic Center. @WVTM13 pic.twitter.com/mf3TSqn21i
— @JonWVTM13 (@JonWVTM13) June 8, 2020
“More than 500 people are packed into Moody First Baptist Church for the funeral service of Lt. Stephen Williams. Another 500 are expected to watch the service from the Moody Civic Center,” WVTM-TV’s Jon Paepcke tweeted.
An online fundraiser was set up for Williams’ family as well.
As of Thursday, it had raised over $60,000.
In times as divisive as these, it’s touching to see that communities and their police departments can not only get along but genuinely love one another.
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