GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Blood runs thick in the family of Thomas LaValley, the Shreveport police officer killed while in the line of duty Wednesday.
"We are a close knit family, we go nowhere alone," said Jeannie Averett, his cousin.
On Saturday, the chance to be together meant a little bit more than ever before.
Gathering along Airline Highway in Gonzales, members of the fallen officer's family prepared to welcome him home one final time.
"Horrendous, that's all I can say. Gut wrenching. No one should ever have to go through the pain and the agony that we've endured," said Averett.
Police say LaValley, 29, was shot multiple times in the upper body while responding to a call on Wednesday night. The alleged gunman, Grover Cannon, 27, was arrested Thursday.
Departing from Shreveport Saturday morning, a police motorcade escorted LaValley's body across the state as it traveled toward Gonzales and the Ourso Funeral Home.
In Gonzales, hundreds of people joined the family in welcoming LaValley home. Many of them had never met the officer.
"I just want to support the family. I just pray to God that he will bless and comfort them as they go through this tragic time," said Chris Hutchcraft
"I love the fact that we are out here and a community, and we can support our officers and show them that they are appreciated and they are loved," said Jennifer Watson, whose husband is also a police officer.
As the motorcade made its way across the state, countless law enforcement officers and community members lined the route to pay their respects.
In Baton Rouge, members of the fire department gathered on a bridge over Interstate 10, saluting the procession. A large American flag waved in the breeze above the overpass.
Dozens of officers from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office greeted LaValley on the final leg of his journey, joined by members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, the Gonzales Police Department, St. John Parish Sheriff's Office, and more.
"This was our calling. This was his calling," said Sheriff Jeff Wiley of the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office. "We don't want to be anywhere but here honoring his sacrifice, honoring his family, and honoring the community that he served."
"He was selfless, he was humble, but above all he was the best guy you'd ever meet," said Averett of her cousin.
After arriving in Gonzales, family and officers watched on in quiet solemnity as the police unloaded the American-flag drapped casket.
For his family, the drive and spirit of Officer LaValley lives on.
"His whole goal was to be a cop and he exceeded his dreams," said Averett. "For all of us, we strive to be as good as Thomas was."
Visitation for Officer LaValley will be held at Ourso Funeral Home on Airline Hwy in Gonzales. The visitation will start Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and resume Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The funeral mass will start at 11 a.m. Monday and will be held at Holy Rosary Catholic Church on Hwy 429 in St. Amant. Following the service, LaValley will be laid to rest in the church ceremony.