ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Flags may have been flying high outside the Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, but spirits were low as friends, family and an outpouring of a law enforcement family paid their respects to fallen Shreveport Officer Thomas LaValley.
"He was always willing to help people, and he would go out of his way to help people. I wish I had a thousand like him," said Shreveport Police Chief Willie Shaw Jr.
Officer LaValley, 29, was a news photographer turned police officer, having served the people of Shreveport for the past four years. A police call last Wednesday would be his last as he was shot to death.
"It really does not feel real. I just keep waiting on Thomas to call me and tell me he's ok," said fellow Shreveport Officer Chris Bordelon.
His fellow Shreveport officers were not the only ones out in support. There was an outpouring of officers from across the country with badge after badge adorned with a black ribbon from local agencies to law enforcement from NYPD, Chicago Police, San Diego as well as Memphis police, who also lost an officer last week in the line of duty.
"Here's a young man who gave his heart and soul to law enforcement. He did not deserve to die the way he did," said Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson.
"We are here to support our fallen officer. Law enforcement is a close knit community and brotherhood, and we are just your showing our support," said San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Mike Duong.
With every officer lining the outside of the church, Officer LaValley's flag draped casket was taken inside for mass.
His friends describe him as a true Southern boy who loved the Saints and was the first to step up when anyone needed help.
"Thomas was a best friend to everybody. You could probably find hundreds of people who would call Thomas their best friend," said Casey Habich, who worked with Thomas as a news photographer in Shreveport.
"You take it for granted, but it was every second spent with him. He was constantly putting a smile on your face," said Shreveport Officer Jeff Bordelon.
With a driveway lined with flags, a police motorcade escorted the hearse as officers from all across the country stood watch proud to have known or worked with a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
"His mother and his father are very, very proud people who loved their son and wished they had him back, but they understand he didn't die in vain. He died doing what he loved, which is serving people," said Chief Shaw.
There was not a dry eye, and a chilling, eerie feeling came over people as dispatch called out to Officer LaValley over the radio for the final time.
"Your sacrifice will not be forgotten. Rest in peace our hero Officer Thomas Joseph LaValley. Badge 1284. Code 8 forever," said the dispatcher.
A son, a brother, a friend and an officer who may be gone, but who people said is watching over us all.
"My baby daughter will have a guardian angel," said Bordelon.
He was buried in cemetery at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in St. Amant after the funeral mass.
Visitation was held Sunday night and Monday morning at the Ourso Funeral Home in Gonzales. Law enforcement agencies from across the state lined Airline Highway as others trickled in to pay their respects.
LaValley's family said he became an officer to give to his community. They added he wouldn't want to be called a hero, but would have an idea of how we should all treat others every day.
"Respect each other, honor each other, don't treat people with labels, treat people with hatred," Jeannie Bryant, LaValley's cousin, said. "Actually look at them, know them before you make judgments, because there's only one person who should be making those judgments and that's the good Lord. It's not us. So, just honor each other and respect one another, if nothing else, because that's what Thomas would have wanted."
Officer LaValley leaves behind his parents and siblings.
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