First responders travel over state lines to pay respects to fallen Officer Chandler

Local

BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) — First responders from as far away as Virginia Beach, Pigeon Forge, and Kentucky honored fallen Big Stone Gap Officer Michael Chandler with a graveside procession from Bullitt Park Thursday morning.

“A six-hour drive is nothing to, you know, to the cause,” said Theodore Knight, Sergeant for Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office in Northern Virginia. “It’s unfortunate that we have to come together in such a form, but it’s honoring our fallen.”

Sgt. Knight said his sheriff sent himself and one other deputy down to Southwest Virginia to honor their fallen brother in arms.

“We support and we stand behind and we back the community, we back the agency that he was brought up. And, you know, we’re here for the family if needed,” he said.

Those who knew Chandler well also joined the procession to say goodbye.

Jody Taylor represented the Town of Pound Volunteer Fire Department in the procession. He is also a retired Big Stone Gap officer, who worked with Chandler when he was still a firefighter before Chandler joined the police force.

“I just it’s an honor to show respect for a Fallen Officer, a brother in law enforcement firefighter, just to let the family and the community know that we care,” Taylor said.

Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp is in charge of prosecuting whoever killed Chandler in the line of duty, but he chose not to talk about the investigation Thursday.

“It’s hard to know what to say in a day like today. It’s just a tragic day. Such a tragic time for our community,” Slemp said.

He said he was not surprised at the outpouring of love for his community member, as first responders flocked to Big Stone Gap not only from across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia but Kentucky as well as Northern and Coastal Virginia as well.

“We’re here to rally together. We’re here to support this hero and to honor his memory. It’s heartwarming to see such an outpouring of love to our community from across the country,” Slemp said. “we thank those who have taken the time out to come and be with us in our moment of grief.”

He added that he hopes that the show of support lingers beyond Chandler’s funeral.

“We pray that this outpouring will not just be a momentary thing, that this will be every day that we will remember the example of Officer Chandler, but remember the sacrifices that law enforcement make every day to keep us safe,” he said.

Community members lined the sidewalk along the way to Chandler’s final resting place to pay their respects to Chandler, who died in the line of duty on Saturday — his 29th birthday — while responding to a welfare call.

Watch the procession below:

Hundreds attended Chandler’s funeral on Wednesday night, including local and state leaders.

Agencies who joined the procession included first responder departments from East Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. This included but was not limited to agencies from Sullivan County, Mount Carmel, Southwest Virginia, Virginia Beach, Pigeon Forge and Kentucky.

Chandler will be laid to rest at Powell Valley Memorial Gardens, and the graveside service is limited to family and emergency personnel, according to service plans listed in Chandler’s obituary.

Chandler is survived by his wife, daughter and other immediate family members.

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