Mourners pack gym for slain Ark. officer's funeral

Officer Brandon Paudert's casket is brought into West Memphis High School (Source: WMCTV)
Officer Brandon Paudert's casket is brought into West Memphis High School (Source: WMCTV)

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (AP) - The son of West Memphis' police chief took his own oath to protect and serve the public very seriously, a minister told hundreds of mourners who packed a school gymnasium Wednesday for the officer's funeral.

Officer Brandon Paudert, one of two West Memphis police officers killed Friday during a roadside shootout with an anti-government advocate and his son, "lived the code of law enforcement, which is to protect and serve, and he did it with passion," said the Rev. Billy Beech, the police department's chaplain.

Family members, neighbors and law enforcement officers from near and far packed the West Memphis High School gym to pay their respects to the 39-year-old Paudert, whose casket was draped in an American flag. Officer Bill Evans' funeral was scheduled for later Monday.

At the beginning of the service, the Rev. Wallace Sherbon asked God for protection from "Godless men and their evil deeds and their evil plots."

He urged those gathered to "look to the end to the final victory." Beech later said Paudert's family was grateful for the support they had received, "the hugs, the cards, the phone calls, the food, you just being here today."

"Don't stop ... that's what they'll need in the days to come."

During the service, family members wept and Paudert's father, West Memphis Police Chief Robert Paudert, kept an eye on his grandchildren, comforting them from time to time. Many questions remain about what led to the shootout, and both the police department and FBI declined Monday to comment about their investigations. Authorities said Evans stopped a white minivan driving along a highway and that Paudert arrived shortly afterward as backup.

They say the minivan's occupants, 45-year-old Jerry Kane of Forest, Ohio, and his son Joseph, who is believed to be 16 years old, gunned down the officers using AK-47 machine guns.

Police killed the two during a shootout about 90 minutes later in which two other law enforcement officers were wounded. Jerry Kane, who posted Internet comments questioning federal and local governments' authority over him, had a long history with police and recently complained about being busted at a "Nazi checkpoint" near Carrizozo, N.M., where court records show he spent three days in jail before posting a $1,500 bond on charges of driving without a license and concealing his identity.

At an address in Clearwater, Fla., where a posting on Kane's website asked donations for his family to be sent, a woman who spoke through the front door Friday declined to comment about the case and told an AP reporter to leave the property.

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