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Fallen Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, Jr. laid to rest

Posted at 1:06 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 19:07:16-04

SEBRING, Fla. — Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, Jr., was laid to rest on Tuesday; he was shot in the line of duty after he responded to a dispute between neighbors.

Hundreds of deputies, police officers and community members gathered to honor Deputy Gentry, who was shot in the head in Lake Placid on May 6 and passed away the following day.

"I know we have (the) watch for him on Earth, but he has a watch for us in Heaven," Lt. Chris Smith, with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, said.




The funeral procession started at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15 as the Highlands County Sheriff's Office transported Deputy Gentry's urn from the Lakeshore Mall to the Highlands News-Sun Center in Sebring— where funeral services began at 11:00 a.m.

"Though his time of being a field deputy was cut short, it is without question those trained by him will ensure his policing legacy continues on," Lt. Smith said.

WATCH: Funeral procession for fallen Highlands County Deputy





During the services, several law enforcement members honored Deputy Gentry; including Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Chaplin Allen Altvater, Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman, Highlands County Lt. Chris Smith and Highlands County Sgt. Scott Williams.

Deputy Gentry's urn was taken to Firemen's Field for an Honors Ceremony including flyover, dove release, riderless horse presentation, Volley of Three Salute, 10-7 Message, "Taps" and Presentation of the Flag. 

The Sheriff presented the folded flag to Deputy Gentry's brother and family. Deputy Gentry's parents will keep his ashes as well as his dogs, including his K-9 Ronie.

"We will get through this tragic time only sticking together," Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said.

Nearly 4,000 people attended the memorial service. There were law enforcement officers from across the country and as far away as California and Boston.

“I’m sure there are plenty of days they wonder why they are doing all that they’re doing,” said Lisa Garrison, a teacher at Sebring High school. “Hopefully this helps them to know plenty of us are very appreciative, very grateful for the sacrifices that they make out day in and day out.”

“We need our law enforcement officers. We need them to understand that we do support them because they are that fine line between chaos and order,” said Tim Thiel, who traveled from New Jersey with his friend Roy Alberti, who attend fallen officer funerals around the country with the group Brothers and Sisters before others. 

They send flower arraignments and show support to families during line of duty deaths. 

“Last year I believe we had 135 or 140 line of duty deaths. This year I think we are up to 29 or 30. Every time we hear it, I’m sure Roy agrees, it’s like getting punched in the stomach,” said Thiel. 

WATCH: Deputy Gentry's Honor Ceremony





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Flags of the United States and the State of Florida were flown at half-staff at the Highlands County Courthouse in Sebring, the City Hall in Sebring, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office in Sebring and at the State Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset in honor of Deputy Gentry, per Governor Rick Scott orders.