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'We saw the worst in society, but we also the best' | Six months later, Collierville first responders reflect on Kroger mass shooting

The violence on September 23, 2021, killed one woman and injured 14 others - but it also strengthened the bond between Collierville residents and law enforcement.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — "Who would have thought in a million years that it would have happened here, but it did," Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said.

Six months ago, Chief Lane led a response to a situation no community ever expects and few have to experience: a mass shooting.

"I'm so proud of our team. They did exactly what they were supposed to do and we know, we know that highlighted the importance of training," Chief Lane added Wednesday.

On September 23rd, 2021, Collierville made national headlines when a recently-fired contracted worker opened fire, injuring 14 people and killing one woman.

RELATED: Collierville Police release new information on the deadly mass shooting at Kroger

"Obviously we want to remember Olivia King, and just what an amazing lady. I've learned so much about her since that day," Chief Lane said.

Credit: The King family
Olivia King, victim from Collierville Kroger shooting, with son

RELATED: 'God needed her in heaven more than we needed her on earth,' Olivia King, Kroger shooting victim, remembered as kind and selfless

But from the worst of humanity that sunny afternoon, in response, came the best from those in Collierville.

"I've never seen anything like it. It was neighbors helping neighbors," Chief Lane said.

That included a now framed letter - sent from an 11-year-old Collierville boy - thanking Chief Lane and his department in the days after.

"That's such a great example of the heart of Collierville," Chief Lane said.

Credit: Town of Collierville

RELATED: A Collierville boy brings words of kindness to encourage strength after mass shooting

Chaplains in the department - along with volunteering pastors - also offered their spiritual support.

"Providing opportunity to give counsel, to give encouragement, to give hope," Central Church Pastor Matt Shackelford said.

Residents stepped up too, proudly setting up yard signs or wearing apparel with a simple declaration: Collierville Strong.

"Something like this happens and you all realize that we all do have something, and we all do want to support each other when something like this happens," Taryn Causey said.

RELATED: 'People are very, very good at supporting local,' Community buying T-shirts to raise money for Kroger victims

Credit: AP
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at a Kroger's grocery store in Collierville, Tenn., on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. (Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via AP)

Chief Lane said in the months after that mass shooting, he's assisted other agencies across the state about lessons he's learned, the best practices, and preparing for the worst.

'We hope it doesn't happen, but hope's not a plan and we've got to plan for it. And we just help people, we tell them the things that we know first-hand, entering that building that will make them better," Chief Lane said.

The Collierville Kroger Victim Relief Fund to date has raised $1.18 million.

If you are interested in donating, go to: https://www.colliervilletnstrong.com/.

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