Wow. Just. Wow.

I drove down to the Lakeshore Mall parking lot this morning to witness the beginning of the motorcade heading to Deputy William Gentry’s Memorial Service at the Fairgrounds. As the SUV’s, EMS vehicles, marked and unmarked cars, fire trucks and other vehicles prepared to leave the south end of the lot, I watched them turn the lot into a sea of flashing blue lights. Hundreds of ’em, from every County and community I could think of in this part of the state, here to show support for and remember one man who almost none of the ones from out of town has ever met, but connected to by profession and passion. And to show support for a community here who’d lost one of our finest. It truly was an emotionally touching scene. And even more touching as we watched the video feed of the service itself graciously provided by one of the Tampa TV stations on their Facebook page.

To those in and out of law enforcement who lost a family member and a friend, I pray for your comfort and offer my sincerest condolences. For the rest of us who weren’t privileged to know the man personally, let’s all pray that losing a protector like William Gentry remains the rare occurrence here that it is, and be grateful we live in a town where a loss like this is still felt as deeply as it is today, in part because it IS so rare.