AIKEN — For hours Monday, people from Aiken County and elsewhere lined the streets waiting to pay their respects to an officer many had never met.
“I’m sad for the family,” said Dennis Wheeler, of Savannah, Ga. “He had a wife and three kids, and now they don’t have a father to go home to.”
Although Wheeler isn’t from Aiken, he said he was heartbroken by the news of Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson’s death. When his boss canceled an assignment in Spartanburg, S.C., on Tuesday, he and a co-worker from Aiken decided to pay their respects on the street in front of the Aiken Department of Public Safety by waving small American flags.
Other mourners waved flags and released red-white-and-blue balloons as the hearse passed by more than three hours after crowds began to form on Laurens Street.
Brentni Wade, of Up and Away in downtown Aiken, said the 80 balloons she filled that morning were gone almost immediately.
Wade also collected more than $1,000 in two days from 42 jars she passed around in downtown stores in memory of the officer she met twice.
Aiken County sheriff’s Cpl. Sonny Ford waited at the intersection of Laurens Street and Barnwell Avenue with his horse, Doc, who had two backward boots in the saddle and a sword at his side – a symbol of a fallen officer. Ford, who was waiting to follow the horse-drawn hearse to the cemetery, said Richardson’s death was personal for him.
It wasn’t just the fact that they worked alongside each other; Ford was Richardson’s school resource officer when he attended South Aiken High School.
“We talked about law enforcement and about him one day becoming a law enforcement officer.
“He was one of the good ones,” Ford said of the man he called a “model officer.”