BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) — Throughout the day Monday, the memorial for slain Big Stone Gap police officer Michael Chandler continued to grow.
Into the night, community members placed flowers, messages, and more on top of a patrol car, which was brought to Miner’s Park to give community members a place to honor him and mourn his death.
Chandler died Saturday evening in the hospital after authorities say he was shot in the line of duty earlier that day.
“While people were asleep in their bed, he was out keeping them safe,” said Leslie Fletcher, a former neighbor and former co-worker of Chandler’s.
Chandler was killed on his 29th birthday.
“We lost a fine young man to our community,” community member Miranda Deboard said. “It was very senseless…and we feel the loss…the whole community feels the loss.”
Hundreds lined the streets Monday afternoon as the slain officer’s body was escorted home in a procession led by his wife Natasha Chandler, a deputy with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.
“They both just loved to give back to the community,” Fletcher said. “It’s like they were meant to be together.”
Chandler left behind his wife and a young daughter.
“That was the light of his life…he always had her with him,” Fletcher said. “It’s just a sad situation.”
Chandler continued to protect and serve until his final breath.
“Being a police officer is his calling…it’s just to help,” Fletcher said.
Police say charges are pending after a 33-year-old man was arrested Saturday night at a Kingsport hotel. The man’s name has not been released.