Houston & Peach

‘Our hearts are heavy,’ Byron pastor says at procession for Peach Deputy Smallwood

Peach Deputy Daryl Smallwood carried from funeral

An honor guard from various law enforcement agencies flanked the casket of Peach County Deputy Daryl Smallwood leaving his funeral at Southside Baptist Church on Nov. 12, 21016.
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An honor guard from various law enforcement agencies flanked the casket of Peach County Deputy Daryl Smallwood leaving his funeral at Southside Baptist Church on Nov. 12, 21016.

A horse-drawn caisson carried the flag-draped casket of Peach County Deputy Daryl Smallwood through the streets he patrolled.

Saturday morning at the crossroads of Byron, a group of people held hands in a circle and prayed.

“Help us as a nation to figure out what we can do to help protect each other and do the right thing, Lord,” Byron City Hall worker Telina Allred said.

Pastor Tom Carruth of Byron United Methodist Church prayed with his wife and children.

“Today, our hearts are heavy, and we lift up these families,” Carruth said.

For the second time in as many days, people lined the streets with American flags to pay respects to a Peach County deputy killed in the line of duty.

Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron, who was buried Thursday, were killed Nov. 6 as they confronted Ralph Stanley Elrod, who was accused of pulling a gun on men riding through his neighborhood on a four-wheeler and motorcycle.

Peach County sheriff's deputies carry the body of Deputy Daryl Smallwood into Southside Baptist Church on Nov. 12, 2016.

Debora Bickford lives across the street from the Byron Police Department.

Byron officers had answered the call of “officers down” with an “active shooter” and swarmed the scene on Hardison Road as the deputies lay dying of multiple gunshot wounds.

“All of this has got to stop, this violence against our officers,” Bickford said as she held a large flag on Main Street. “We are all family when it comes to law enforcement, first responders, military. “

A “Back the Blue” sign is posted in her yard.

“My sympathies and condolences go out, not only to the families but the comrades of the officers,” said Bickford, who has friends on the force. “It hit them hard ... it’s really hit them hard.”

Raegan Goggin, whose husband is a Peach County detective, stood along Ga. 49 with others from the Adorable Pet Salon.

They held flags and dogs wearing black and blue ribbons, the colors now synonymous with supporting law enforcement.

The past week has traumatized the community.

“Horrible, horrible. Devastating. Probably one of the worst things you can imagine, times 10,” Goggin said while awaiting the hearse and procession of law enforcement vehicles leaving Rooks Funeral Home.

People lined the streets of Peach County Nov. 12, 2016, to honor deputy Daryl Smallwood, who was killed in the line of duty with Sgt. Patrick Sondron while answering a call Nov. 6, 2016.

People stood shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk.

An iron cross of aerial ladders draping the American flag formed an arch near the Byron Fire Department.

Closer to Interstate 75, a pair of cranes suspended another banner of stars and stripes.

Macon-Bibb County fire trucks blocked an intersection as a caravan of public safety officers followed the hearse to Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins.

The support from other agencies and the public has sustained Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese after losing two men.

“I don’t know how else you could get through it,” Deese said.

Goggins said the response tugs her heart in different directions.

“Wonderful but heartbreaking that they even have to come out,” Goggin said before sorrow swallowed the rest of her words.

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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