WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - Less than one month after two West Memphis police officers were laid to rest, their families came together again Wednesday to receive a generous gift from the community.
Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans were gunned down during a traffic stop in late May. Ninety minutes later, suspects Jerry and Joseph Kane were killed in a shootout in the parking lot of the West Memphis Walmart.
Wednesday, Brandon Paudert's widow, Kim, fought back tears as she and other family members accepted checks from fundraisers held last month for the officers' families.
"I don't know how you say thank you or express your gratitude enough," she said.
Brandon Paudert's father, West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, echoed those sentiments.
"I want to say thank you to the entire community on behalf of Bill Evans and his family (and) Jimmy Evans and his family," Paudert said. "We have been in contact daily."
The fundraiser for the officers' families involved Sun Trust bank, Clear Channel Radio, Citadel Radio, Flinn Radio, Entercom and Action News 5.
"This is a gift of the people of the Mid-South who gave dines and nickels and fives and tens and in some cases fifties and hundreds," said Action News 5 anchor Joe Birch.
The amount collected amounted to $150,000, and will be split evenly between the families.
"Where else would you find the tremendous outpouring of love and money from people? Most of them didn't even know these two fine young men," said West Memphis Mayor William Johnson.
The news conference became emotional when Kim Paudert spoke from her heart through an open letter to the community.
"As I write this letter I am in awe," she said. "I am in awe of the Lord and all of you who have supported my family during this tragedy. I am truly amazed honored and blown away by all of the cards letters and support you have given."
Paudert said her faith is what is seeing her through this tragedy, and she asked for the community to continue praying for everyone involved.
You can still donate to the officers families. Donations are being accepted at any Sun Trust Bank.