MONROE, NC (WBTV) - Hundreds gathered Thursday at Lee Park Baptist Church to remember Monroe High School Resource Officer Paul Perrette, who tragically died Saturday in a motorcycle accident at 49 years old.
"The first thing I did was I froze up, because I couldn't deal with it," Monroe High School senior Samuel Cox said. "It's still hard for me. I will never get over that Perrette isn't here anymore. Part of him will always live inside of me."
Perrette's son spoke at the funeral and said if he could be half the man his dad was, he would be a proud son. He also told the crowd his dad wouldn't want people to be sad but rather happy about the life he lived.
"It was beautiful and tragic and sad all at the same time," Rocky River High School Resource Officer Kristin Tolman said. "The service was impeccable... so professional. And it really represents the kind of the love of the community."
There was a procession Thursday morning from the funeral home to the church. Many officers accompanied the flag-draped casket as it arrived at the church. Many Monroe High School students and staff attended the funeral. Students say Perrette made a lasting impression on them.
"I know he wouldn't want to see me down or depressed or not doing what I am fully capable of this year," Cox said. "I am going to push harder in my school work - focusing on all my classes for Officer Perrette because I know he would want me to succeed rather than to fail."
Perrette joined the Monroe Police Department in 2009 and became a School Resource Officer in 2013.
"He wasn't there to enforce the law, he was not there at school to hand out citations," Harvey said. "He was at school to prevent students from making wrong choices on the front end."
Monroe Police Chief Bryan Gilliard spoke at the funeral. He said he didn't understand why Perrette died and said it shouldn't have happened. He thanked the community for helping his department get through the death.
"It helps in the process," City of Monroe Communications Officer Peter Havenec said. "Going through this is horrible. It's horrible for our officers, our staff... but seeing the support just really helps get through this."
Perrette was described as a peacemaker, a person who had a great sense of humor, and a man who taught life lessons.
"One of his favorite things to say was, 'All we have is all we need, because if all we had was each other, then that's all we will ever need,'" Cox said.
Perrette leaves behind a wife, two kids, his parents, and other relatives.