CLINTON, Mo. - "Great People, By Nature" is boldly painted on a welcome sign to Clinton, Missouri. It's a slogan the small town of 9,000 strives to uphold, and one Officer Gary Michael lived by.
"I have known Gary since he was about 16 years old," Deputy Chief of Clinton Police Sonny Lynch said, describing Michael as someone who'd always wanted to be a police officer. "Gary was a service-oriented young man who took his commitment to our town very seriously, and gave his life for it."
Messages of support are displayed outside nearly every business.
"As a community, it hits us really hard," Caitlyn Waller told 41 Action News.
Waller works at Courtyard Bar and Grill in the town's square, where the memorial procession passed through Wednesday morning. It's a place where everyone knew Michael's face well and knew his order before he even sat down.
"He got the same thing every time," Waller said, which was Jalapeño Bottle Caps, a coconut mojito, and a steak.
Michael ate at Courtyard the Saturday before he was killed.
"I don't think he expected to die that weekend. He just got out of the car doing his normal job, he's doing his normal thing, and didn't expect for somebody like that to hurt him," Waller said.
The establishment has two Thin Blue Line American flags posted proudly, but mournfully, in the window.
"He left an overwhelming impact with us. Gary was quick-witted, he smiles easily. He had a very easy, gentle way about him. He was a good man," Lynch said.
Now, the CPD is planning a memorial, something they've never had to do.
A law enforcement funeral team from out of town is helping CPD with the planning.
"The ultimate goal is to honor Gary and his family. That's the most important thing for us because Gary did the dying and his family is going to go on without him, and it'll impact them for the rest of their life," Lynch said.
The city will hold a vigil outside the Henry County Courthouse on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.
Per CPD: Visitation will be held Friday, August 11, 2017 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Vansant-Mills Funeral Home, 314 West Jefferson Street in Clinton, Missouri 660-885-2021.
The funeral will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Benson Convention Center, 1008 East Sedalia Avenue Clinton, Missouri.
Prior to the services there will be a public viewing at the Benson Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Interment will be at Englewood Cemetery located at 1804 East Ohio Street Clinton Missouri.