CLINTON, Mo. - As family members, fellow officers, and the community get set for the funeral of fallen police officer Gary Michael on Saturday, those who knew him continue to honor him in many ways.
Michael was shot and killed after responding to a traffic stop in Clinton on Sunday night.
Days after the tragedy, a fellow law enforcement member wrote a song in honor of his friend and brother in blue.
Henry County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chase Curl knew Michael from their early days in the profession.
"At first, I knew him as a fellow cadet in the academy. We went to the Central Missouri Police Academy," he explained. "He had a huge heart. He was just a great guy."
The two eventually landed positions in Clinton, where Michael had dreams of becoming an officer even from a young age.
Curl said the two officers would often talk with one another when both were on the night shift.
"I'd be coming into town or coming out of town and he would flash me down with his lights or something," Curl explained. "We'd just sit there and catch up and talk."
Curl and Michael kept in touch and developed a friendship before tragedy struck over the weekend.
The deputy said he first became aware of the shooting after seeing police lights while on the road.
"Naturally, I knew something was wrong being that I'm in this profession. I can usually tell when something is off," he explained. "I went inside and turned my radio on. I heard some of the calls going out. That's when I broke down."
Curl said he soon knew of Michael's death.
Fighting through heartbreak and tragedy, Curl turned to music to deal with the pain.
"I felt that I needed to do something to get the emotion out," said Curl, who would often play guitar before he became a deputy. "I thought to myself 'Well I haven't played in a long time.' So, I picked (the guitar) up. Two hours later, the song was born."
The song, titled "Officer Down," deals with friendship and the sacrifice Michael made on Sunday.
Curl posted the song to Facebook, which has more than 8,000 shares.
Above all else, Curl said he hoped the song could properly honor his friend and fellow officer.
"I think the point of this song is not to focus on what happened but on how to cope with it," he explained. "What I take from it is, 'Yeah, a great officer died but how did he die? He put his life out there for us.'"
Curl said the song may play at Michael's funeral on Saturday morning.
The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. at the Benson Convention Center.
The full song can be heard below.
41 Action News will show Officer Gary Michael’s funeral on our sister station KMCI/38 the Spot and live stream it on kshb.com and on the 41 Action News Facebook page.