A public funeral service for fallen Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner in Florence was attended by hundreds Friday.
The service opened with prayers and featured musical performances and included words of remembrance from those who knew Risner. They described his work ethic, servant’s heart and dedication to his community, family and friends.
Risner had been with the Sheffield Police Department for nine years and was serving as a K-9 sergeant when he responded to a call Oct. 1 that ultimately resulted in his death.
In the days since, communities throughout the area have shown their support, from donning blue shirts to gathering donations for his family and K-9 partner Whiske to standing along the roadway with flags and salutes as his body was brought back home.
“I would put Sgt. Nick Risner against any police sergeant anywhere,” Sheffield Police Lt. Max Dotson said during Risner’s service Friday.
Dotson also responded to the call and was shot by the same suspect who shot Risner. He said Risner was the kind of person who “did what needed to be done” and was not just a friend or coworker but a mentor to many who knew him.
In honor of Risner’s love for Alabama football, Dotson called on the crowd to give a rousing shout of “Roll Tide” at one point. After, he said he hoped Risner was smiling down at that moment.
“I’ll miss you forever, my friend,” Dotson said, “and I will never forget you.”
The service was followed by a procession led by Alabama State Troopers and escorted by Florence Police Department to a private ceremony. Officers from other agencies traveled to Sheffield to allow Sheffield officers to attend the ceremonies Friday.
Colbert County 911 Dispatch Supervisor Edie Myrick was among the crowd at the service. Myrick wore a bracelet and blue ribbons in honor of her fallen friend.
"He was just that guy," she said. "If you were down, he could pick you up. If you needed him, he was there. He knew you were upset without having to tell him you were upset. He noticed us as dispatchers and didn't forget us on the other side of the radio."
Community events and fundraisers have been arranged for those who wish to show their support for Risner and his family.
A GoFundMe set up for the family had raised more than $30,000 as of Friday afternoon, while Discount Dan’s in Sheffield is selling blue lightbulbs for those who wish to light Sheffield blue. Proceeds from the lightbulb sales will be given to the Risner family.
Country music group Shenandoah has arranged a benefit concert for Oct. 12 at Sheffield’s Riverfront Park. The 90-minute event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and feature performances from Shenandoah, Lenny Leblanc and The Travis Wammack Band.
In Florence, Underwood youth baseball complex will host the inaugural Sgt. Nick Risner Memorial Tournament on Oct. 23. Attendees are encouraged to wear blue for Risner, who used to coach softball there.