People in the Shoals community are still trying to come to grips after losing Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner. He died in a shootout Oct. 1 while protecting the public from a murder suspect.
There is a large memorial for Risner behind Walmart in Muscle Shoals. There are similar memorials to him at the police department and throughout the area.
"Even though I did not know him, my heart aches just like those that did," Shoals resident Crystal Reed said. "We're so thankful for him, and we're so thankful for all law enforcement, and we're just proud that this area can be supportive the way we've been supportive at this time."
Reed said she felt a sense of oneness with the whole community as she watched Risner's homecoming. More than 2 miles of cars helped escort Risner's body back to the Shoals last week, and Reed remembered looking down the road to see blue and black balloons and people lining the streets.
She said the sting of losing Risner is still present.
"I think the emotional standpoint of the community is just overwhelming sadness but also thankful that we have first responders in law enforcement that are willing to put themselves in danger to protect our community," said Reed.
Reed said seeing the community come together helps her and others heal.
"When I walk my neighborhood in the morning and I see blue lights on people's homes, it's almost a sense of pride to know that we have so many people in this community that support our officers," Reed said.
Reed said she thinks more people in the area will appreciate police officers more and know things like this can happen even in places like the Shoals.