A large procession of North Carolina police officers and firefighters gathered along the overpass of Interstate 40 in Burke County to pay tribute to U.S. Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp, 38, and his service dog Maros, who were killed while pursuing a homicide suspect.
Firefighters from nearby Long View raised a large American flag over the highway, as many drivers pulled over to pay their respects, reports WSOC TV 9
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"It breaks my heart. This man is a hero. He is a hero to the state, to the nation, and to his family and colleagues. He was special before this tragedy,” Gov. McCrory told The McDowell News at the event
"He had saved lives before and I think he saved lives at his loss. He’s made the ultimate sacrifice and we should recognize that. I will do anything I can to help his colleagues, his family, and the other men and women who were involved in this terrible, terrible thing," he added.
Crisp is believed to have been shot at close range while tracking Troy Whisnant, who is suspected of killing his father and stepmother at the home they shared just a few miles away.
The killing likely happened days before, and Whisnant is suspected of living with the bodies, which were stored in the basement.
Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant told WSOC, "It is very unusual especially when you consider the relationship — that was his parents — and then to come back and be in the home with your two dead parents."
Whisnant is also suspected of using crack cocaine, as well as breaking into his neighbors' house to steal a shotgun and .38 pistol.
During the search, Whisnant ambushed Crisp and Maros, killing both.
"This is a tragic loss for our Forest Service family. Our thoughts are with Jason’s wife and two sons. Words cannot express our sadness," Special Agent in Charge Steve Ruppert told The McDowell News.
The U.S. Forest Service also released a statement that read, "Jason and Maros were an asset to the Forest Service and the community. Whether he was following up on incidents, assisting other agencies with their investigations, tying in with our campground hosts at some of our high-use recreation areas, working with forest visitors or conduction fire investigations, Jason’s priority was always public and employee safety. From the Brown Mountain OHV area to the Linville Gorge Wilderness, Jason knew every nook and cranny of the district. He will be missed beyond words."
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