NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Monday, friends, family members and fellow officers said their goodbyes to the 28-year-old Metro police officer killed in the line-of-duty last week.
The Celebration of Life Service for Officer John Anderson was held at Cornerstone Church in Madison at 1 p.m.
Officer Anderson’s body was moved around 7:45 a.m. from Spring Hill Funeral Home to the church. Once inside, his family was presented with the Medal of Valor, which is MNPD’s highest honor, by Police Chief Steve Anderson.
A Metro cruiser that was positioned outside Central Precinct as a memorial for Officer Anderson was also moved inside the church for the service.
“Officer Anderson had no idea that day that it would be the last he put on that badge, but I believe every moment he woke up he was willing to give his life to save Nashville,” said Cornerstone Pastor Galen Davis.
“He laid down his life serving people he didn’t even know… today we honor that, and we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Davis continued.
Governor Bill Lee was among those who spoke at the funeral calling Anderson and offered his condolences to the Metro officer’s family and loved ones.
“None of us know the pain, the emptiness and the brokenness that you feel at this moment, but all of us in this room and across the state of Tennessee join you in deep gratitude and mourning the loss of a server – whose very life and job was to serve and protect us,” the governor said.
Gov. Lee continued, “On behalf of 6.7 million Tennesseans, we thank you. We grieve and mourn with you as you mourn one of your fellow officers. There are many brokenhearted here today, and we know where comfort comes.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley also spoke, calling Anderson “courageous” and “brave.”
“He was known and loved across the entire city,” Mayor Briley said. “I know the coming days will be very hard. I urge each and every one of you to look at him as a guiding force as you move forward. If you need comfort, we are here for you. We grieve with you and we will do all we can to support you in these days of grief.”
The mayor continued, “Officer John Anderson we will not forget your sacrifice and service to this city. Officer John Anderson, thank you.
Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus also stepped on the stage to sing, “Some Gave All.”
Police Chief Steve Anderson also spoke, praising the officer for his actions and hard work over the last four years.
“He did great work every day,” Chief Anderson said. “He decided he wanted to be a person to help others, and he decided being a police officer was the best way to do that. Thank you, John Anderson IV for wandering into our lives.”
James Smallwood, president of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police then spoke about the commitment and sacrifice of being a police officer, encouraging the family to try and find courage in Anderson’s heroism.
“To the family — as I struggle to put this together, I quickly realized there are no words. No words can ever replace the love you shared from John. No parent should ever have to bury a child. No child should have to grow up without a father. I hope you can find some comfort in the fact John was pursuing passion. He will always be remembered as a hero.”
He also did his best to explain to the community what the sacrifice of being a police officer really means.
“At times it can be a sobering reality to what we do, responding to citizens who need him in personal crisis. or worse, that you are the only officer responding to another officer screaming for help,” Smallwood explained. “In that moment, we realize there is no one else to call for help, and it becomes apparent we are the last line of defense. No moment to consider bravery, heroism, service, sacrifice, only time to remember our sworn oath to help one another.”
Smallwood’s tribute was followed with a performance of “The Good Guys” by Sgt. Henry Particelli.
Anderson’s stepfather Danny Hein, brother Jordan Anderson, and Officer Hunter Fikes delivered personal remarks.
“I find it hard to believe that you’re in a better pace, when a fruitful life is cut so short. But I really hope that’s true, because you’re the last individual who deserved this,” noted Jordan. “Looking back, I would give anything to have one more conversation with my brother. I just want to let him know my ears are wide open, for my brother. I love him, and god speed till we meet again.”
The final speaker was Brother Will Tidwell of Tusculum Church of Christ, who delivered the eulogy, sharing words on behalf of Anderson’s fiance, Katelyn.
“Katelyn asked me to share these words,” Tidwell said. “‘To the man who will always have my heart, thank you for being the perfect balance, being spontaneous. Thank you for being the most wonderful father to my son. Thank you for being understanding. Thank you for showing me what true partnership looks like. Thank you for loving me so fiercely.'”
After a moving tribute, Marine Honors and a 21-shot salute, Officer Anderson’s body was removed from the church while a group of bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”
END OF WATCH CEREMONY
Officer Anderson was memorialized with an “end-of-watch” call over Metro police dispatch at 3:05 a.m. Monday, near the time he was killed in the crash.
“Attention all cars, 421 Charles, Central Precinct Officer John Anderson, 10-7 for the remainder, End of watch, Thursday, July 4th, 2019 at 3:05 hours. Officer Anderson, we honor you for your ultimate sacrifice and we thank you for your service to the Metropolitan Government and the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County. God, we ask that you welcome this fallen hero with open arms. We also ask that you bless each person who has gathered here today in respect for his sacrifice. We pray that you protect our brothers and sisters in blue as they follow their calling and continue to put themselves in harms way daily to help others stay safe. We pray for all of these things in your name, Amen.”
Officer Anderson’s family traveled to Nashville from North Carolina Sunday for the service.
First-responders across the state lined the family’s route to honor Officer Anderson’s sacrifice.
Some family members arrived in Nashville Friday, where members of Metro police’s Drill and Ceremony team were on hand to salute them.
Officer Anderson was killed after police said 17-year-old Jayona Brown slammed into his patrol car around 3 a.m. Thursday morning.
Twenty-eight-year-old Anderson graduated from the Police Academy and joined the force on Nov. 1, 2014.. His colleagues said the officer served the department, tourists and the city of Nashville. He worked in the Central Precinct, which covers downtown Nashville.
Central precinct Commander Gordon Howey grew emotional when talking about the fallen officer.
“John has worked his entire career at the central precinct on the c-detail midnight shift. He was a very dedicated officer who worked extremely hard.”
In addition to Anderson’s four years in the central precinct, he was also a bagpiper for the Metro police Drill and Ceremony team, which performs at officer funerals.
Officer Anderson loved to play hockey in his spare time and had just been speaking with another colleague about his 18-month-old son Gavin.
“He was just talking about how his son was growing up so fast and he enjoyed spending time with him. Now, of course, today his life was tragically taken,” said Officer Richard Conger.
The young officer also leaves behind a devoted girlfriend, Katelyn Smith. In a statement, her sister said the couple was soon going to be engaged and that John had stepson who he loved as his own.
“I want people to know that John loved Katelyn so much and they going to be engaged soon. And he took Katelyn’s son, Liam, in as his own and was an incredible father to him in addition to his own son, Gavin. He was truly a part of our family. I considered him a brother. He was a great friend and a true family man. He always pushed us to be better, just as he pushed himself. We are all better off for knowing him and being loved by him.”
Donations can be made at the Metro Police Community Credit Union in Donelson, which is located at 2711 Old Lebanon Road, Nashville, TN 37214. Please note the donation is for Officer John Anderson on the check.
Please join News 2 in helping the family of fallen officer, John Anderson.
This Tuesday, volunteers will be on hand at the Murfreesboro Pike Metro Police Headquarters, from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., to take your donations for the Officer John Anderson Memorial Fund.