FLOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) – The small community of Eastern Kentucky is heartbroken as they prepare to say goodbye to three fallen heroes killed in the line of duty last week during an ambush while trying to serve an emergency protection order.
It was an emotional day for first responders, friends, family and neigbbors in Floyd County as the first of the three funerals began this morning, Tuesday, July 5, where hundreds of people came to the Mountain Arts Center to pay their respects to fallen Floyd County Deputy William Petry.
A procession of officers and first responders from across the state escorted Deputy Petry to the funeral service where his friends, family and neighbors paid tribute to their loved one.
Those who knew him best were emotional as they spoke of the man they remember as kind and passionate. Those gathered wore black and blue in his honor saying no one should have to sacrifice what Deputy Petry did.
“The family should know their still a part of the Blue Family,” said Sgt. Gary Thurman of the Lexington Police Department. “We want to show honor to the family of the fallen.”
Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt was one of the speakers at Deputy Petry’s funeral. He says Deputy Petry always knew what his calling was and that he loved protecting his community and helping those in need.
“The last thing that Petry said to me was ‘I love you,'” Hunt said. “That was the last word that Petry said to me and I’ll never forget that.”
The people on the stage and in the room have enough memories of Deputy William Petry to write a book. Hunt says he could write several chapters because they joined the ranks together nearly 40 years ago.
“He knew his calling. He was good at it. He wasn’t in it for the thrills; He wasn’t in it for the authority, the power. He went to work every day because he loved people, helping somebody – just having that chance to help someone at the end of the day,” Hunt said.
Jerry Wagner, executive director of the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association, said the tragic ambush shooting that took the lives of Petry, Prestonsburg Police Department Captain Ralph Frasure, Prestonsburg Police Officer Jacob Chaffins and Floyd County K-9 Drago was a “senseless” loss that affects the whole community.
“It’s a member if your family and a tragic loss, senseless loss is what it is,” Wagner said. “From here all his lfe and coming in as a trooper, then deputy sheriff – all the family’s from here. This is just a tremendous loss for our community and law enforcement in general in Kentucky.”
Loved ones describe Deputy Petry as a beloved husband, father, grandfather, son and friend that so many could count on.
“My guy that I knew I wanted standing with me on every call daily,” said Floyd County Deputy Kevin Thacker. “He knew that I had his back, and we knew that Petry had everybody’s back. Petry was hands-down one of the best law enforcement officers any of ushad ever saw.”
“I never dreamed that I’d call him gone, but I knew that whenever he left, I would call him a hero, and William Petry is a hero. He’s my hero, I know he’s everyone in my department’s hero, and I know he’ll be your hero and he’ll never be forgotten for the sacrifices his family has made.”Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt
Deputy Petry’s funeral was followed with a procession to take him to Gethsemane Gardens in Prestonsburg to be laid to rest.
As hard as it is for the community to grasp, Deputy Petry’s funeral is just the first.
Visitation for Prestonsburg Police Department Captain Ralph Frasure continues all day today, Tuesday, July 5 at Nelson-Frazier Funeral Home and his funeral will be tomorrow, Wednesday, July 6, at 1 p.m. at the Mountain Arts Center.
Visitation for Prestonsburg Police Officer Jacob Chaffins begins tonight at 6 p.m. at Toms’ Creek Freewill Baptist Church in Ivel with his funeral Thursday, July 7 at 1 p.m. at the Mountain Arts Center.
The community is also planning a memorial service for Floyd County K-9 Drago, who was also killed in the ambush, on Friday, July 8.
This evening WOWK 13 News Reporter Andie Bernhardt will have more details on air and in this article from this morning’s services honoring Deputy Petry’s life and legacy.