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Thousands pay their respects to fallen deputy

If it’s true that there is strength in numbers, Lincoln County showed how strong it can be Wednesday at Easthaven Baptist Church.

Thousands filed past the flag-draped casket holding the body of Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy William Durr, who was shot and killed in the line of duty Saturday night.

At each end of the casket stood a member of the Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard in full dress, silent and still as statues.

People were waiting when the doors opened at 5 p.m. The line inched its way through the main lobby, snaking its way around chairs that mostly sat empty. The line continued down hallways and into the sanctuary, where it started near the front and stretched past the seats to the back of the room and around to the other side before it reached the casket.

Dozens of floral arrangements filled the stage and a video of Durr’s life played continuously on two overhead screens.

The family stood greeting each person who came by. Gov. Phil Bryant was among those offering condolences. Flanked by body guards, he was escorted in and out through a side door quickly to see the family so he wouldn’t disrupt the visitation.

Tressie Durr stood strong beside her husband’s casket, shaking hands and hugging necks of people who knew the deputy and many more who didn’t.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said he’s sure many of the people there Wednesday did not know his deputy personally, but were patiently waiting for one to two hours in a line to show support to the Durr family.

Tressie Durr was accompanied by her mother, Brenda Hall.

Eleven-year-old Nash Durr shook hands with strangers and friends alike, taking in all the kind words being said about his father. He seemed encouraged, though sad, by the outpouring of love.

His grandmother, Durr’s mother Debbie Durr, stood between him and her daughter, Megan Durr and her fiance’ Adam Cook.

The family thanked each person who came through as if they were the first to offer condolences.

Many of those in line wore badges and uniforms. First responders representing fire departments, sheriff’s offices and police offices from nearby counties and other states were there as well as troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol from districts all over the state.

Tressie Durr gave a long hug to Sgt. Josh Leggett with MHP as he made his way past the family.

Leggett serves in Lincoln County and his path crossed William Durr’s both professionally and personally. He met Durr when the deputy married Tressie.

He said Durr was a good, Christian man, and his passing has been hard on him and others in law enforcement. “It hits close to home for sure,” he said. “Sometimes you get complacent and this opens your eyes.”

Members of the Brotherhood of the Fallen stood in dress blues waiting for their turn to speak to Durr’s family. Officers George Kuzmanovski and Jeremy Carter represented Chicago Police Department. They were joined by officers from New York and Fort Worth.

Carter grasped an envelope with a condolence card and a monetary gift from his department in his gloved hand.

Members of the Brotherhood attend funerals for fallen officers on their own dime, paying for their own flights and hotel rooms and using vacation time and days off to travel. It’s important, he said.

“He’s our brother,” Carter said. “We’re one big family. Any loss to any law enforcement agency is a loss to us all.”

Durr’s funeral service will be at Easthaven today at 1 p.m. His body will be escorted by members of the Patriot Guard and law enforcement officers who will lead the procession to Moak’s Creek Baptist Church. Hundreds of motorcycles and cruisers are expected to participate in the procession.