WEST MEMPHIS, ARKANSAS – Family and friends said goodbye to Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans on Monday. Funeral services for both men were held at West Memphis High School's Lehr arena. Paudert's funeral was held first, and thousands packed the arena for the service.
Family and friends remembered him as a man who lived for family, and the force. He left behind a wife and three children.
“It's just unbelievable a tragedy like this can grip a whole community the way it has,” said Joy Moss, who attended church with Paudert’s family.
Bonnie Eagle, who also attended church with them, agreed.
“They were a very sweet family,” she said. “I just thought so much of the family."
At the podium, speakers shared memories of a son who grew up wanting to be a cop, just like his father. Even those who didn't know the family mourned outside the arena, placing hands over hearts as the caravan passed by.
“I feel it’s the right thing to do,” said Janie Townsend. “They are the men in blue and they fight for our city and our country, I just appreciate them."
Dave Evans didn’t know the Paudert family, but showed up for the funeral to honor the officer anyway.
“There's a saying that there's no greater sacrifice a man can make other than to lay down his life for another,” Evans said. “That's what these gentlemen did, they laid down their lives while protecting us."
Officers from Bartlett, Jonesboro, Little Rock and other places around the Mid-South paid their respects here.
“It's very heart-warming to know all these police officers are there and they come together,” Bonnie Eagle said.
Dave Evans said “it’s a brotherhood.”
“Whether you're in current law enforcement or previous law enforcement, you always feel that bond,” he said. “And when one falls it touches all, as you can see by this turnout here today."