LeCroy Remembered as Devoted Trooper, Family Man
The Marietta funeral for the slain officer draws hundreds from law enforcement and the public.
A woman softly clutched a box of tissues while waiting outside Roswell Street Baptist Church early Friday afternoon, perhaps signifying the tears that would flow from more eyes than her own as Marietta, Cobb County and the state of Georgia said goodbye to a fallen hero.
The audience that filled the massive sanctuary for the funeral of Trooper Chadwick LeCroy heard occasional boosts of levity as his co-workers and superiors with the Georgia State Patrol described him as a down-to-earth personality but also as someone driven to "catch bad guys."
Maj. Mark McDonough, the commanding officer of the patrol's field operations, spoke of how he imagined playfully, upon first hearing LeCroy's full name, an English high-society gentleman, all the way down to an ascot tie and recreational habits typical of such an upbringing.
LeCroy was indeed a gentleman, McDonough explained, but of a humbler variety.
"Chad didn't wear cashmere; he wore camouflage," McDonough said. "He didn't play polo, but softball."
In every way he came to know LeCroy, the major said, the East Cobb trooper slain Monday was "the salt of the earth."
It was when McDonough addressed LeCroy's family, especially his wife, Keisha, that he broke up.
"Your husband was one of our best," McDonough told her, fighting back tears. "Cobb County and the state of Georgia have lost one of its favorite sons. He will be sorely missed."
Georgia Public Safety Director Bill Hitchens, a colonel in the State Patrol, also choked with emotion when addressing the LeCroy family, which includes sons Bret, 21, and Chase, 8.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was especially tearful in his remarks, interrupting himself more than once. "I grieve, but not as you grieve," the outgoing governor said to the LeCroy family. "I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry."
Hundreds of law enforcement representatives, some coming from as far as Virginia, turned out in an enormous show of respect for LeCroy, 38, who was fatally shot in Atlanta late Monday night while making a traffic stop on a vehicle with a broken headlight.
The driver of that car, Gregory Favors, 30, of Atlanta, has been charged with murder and aggravated assault. He has a long felony history and was on probation in Cobb when he was charged with four nonviolent felonies Dec. 11 and released three days later.
The horse-drawn caisson carrying LeCroy's casket to the church came from a unit of North Carolina state troopers. Georgia troopers occupying the cascading seating areas behind the pulpit occupied on Sunday mornings by the Roswell Street Baptist choir arrived and departed with their left forearms partially held out as perches for their hats. Officers from other public safety agencies followed suit, with three officers from the Columbus, GA, police wearing white gloves.
Colleagues described LeCroy as absolutely devoted to both his family and his work. They were impressed with—and perhaps in awe of—his zeal for the chase.
"Troopers called him 'knack' because of his innate ability" to pursue criminals, "including seeing a headlight out," Hitchens said. "He was involved in a lot of chases. He was so good at it that he wouldn't leave a scuff on the car."
LeCroy, who had an offer to join the Atlanta Police Department, received the thrill of his life when he graduated from trooper school in 2008, Hitchens said. After working in a number of occupations, including construction, LeCroy had finally achieved his dream of becoming a trooper.
"Those who get into (law enforcement) can hardly think of doing anything else," Hitchens said. "They have an opportunity to change lives. Sometimes, they have an opportunity to save lives."
The Rev. Ernest Easley, the Roswell Street Baptist senior minister, offered words of comfort to family, friends and associates. "How do you move forward from a tragedy like this, where you're not sure where to turn? In the midst of all this, you can count on God's presence. You can also count on God's peace."
After the service, the same kilted bagpipe corps from the Metro Atlanta Police Emerald Society that marched ahead of the caisson upon entering the church led the procession out, and the long motorcade made its way to Kennesaw Memorial Park for LeCroy's burial.