WISE, Va. (WJHL) — It was an emotional evening on the UVA Wise campus as family, friends, and fellow law enforcement officers said goodbye to Big Stone Gap officer Michael Chandler, who was killed in the line of duty last weekend.
Police officers from across the state and several of Virginia’s new government leaders paid tribute.
The people who worked with Chandler described him as one of the best.
“He’d do anything that my office asked of him on any case, even if it meant going to court and testifying on the fly with very little preparation and he never got frustrated,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said.
Slemp, who is in charge of prosecuting Chandler’s killer, promised justice for the slain officer.
“Mark my words, the person responsible for this tragedy will not escape justice,” Slemp said.
Among the hundreds who attended the service was Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears, who had a message for Chandler’s family.
“It’d be one thing if he had been sick, but he wasn’t supposed to not be here. But you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, and that hurts,” Sears said.
Del. Terry Kilgore said the fact that so many people attended the service showed just how much Chandler mattered to the community.
“That’s just a testament to Officer Chandler and to what he sacrificed for our community,” Kilgore said. “It just — all the folks that were on the bridges, beside the road Monday. It was just unbelievable.”
Big Stone Gap officials shared the good times, but not without tears for a man who will be missed by the community.
“He’s a perfect example of what we’re so proud of here in Southwest Virginia,” Town Manager Steve Lawson said. “He served his community not only as a firefighter and police officer, but he’s an excellent husband, father and friend that none of us could ever replace.”
Chandler will be laid to rest Thursday morning in Big Stone Gap.