HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (WMC) - It was a very solemn day in Helena-West Helena as people showed up to pay their respects for a man beloved by just about everyone. Police Officer Travis Wallace was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Wallace’s body lay inside the police department lobby as people drove by. It was organized that way because of the pandemic.
“I actually wanted to be here because he was a good dude. I played ball with him,” Wallace’s friend Raymond Fields said.
A large number of residents also showed up to pay their respects.
“I wanted to be here because he took care of our community and a whole lot more people in areas and different counties,” resident Cloteal Martin said.
Many motel people drove by to pay their respects.
Helena-West Helena police chief James Smith is not surprised by how many people showed up for an officer described as kind, someone who cared about the community, people and his job.
“He was an example of what a great officer should be. He was a leader in our department, in our family. Everybody he encountered he touched that individual,” Chief Smith said.
Officer Wallace’s patrol car sat outside the police station as it was filled with notes, cards, and flowers.
And by his casket on a pedestal sat an American flag, the U.S honor flag, that flew at ground zero, a flag that travels the country to honor police, firefighters and military killed in the line of duty. That flag is never touched twice with the same gloves.
“The gloves Travis is wearing now, those gloves were used to position the flag where it is now. Gloves used to move it around will be given to Travis’ family,” Chris Heisler, founder of the Honor Flag, explained.
Heisler said a decision on which funerals to go to is determined by logistics— whether to not he can get there from the previous funeral.
Officer Wallace was shot and killed last Thursday while he was trying to arrest a fugitive. The two suspects are behind bars.
And after the private wake for officer Wallace’s family his young son sat in a patrol car with Chief James Smith in a sea of blue filled with officers from around the mid-south there to honor a fallen hero.
Wallace’s funeral will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the stadium at Central High. Residents told me they are grateful because it is a place large enough for people to attend.