Pat McCrory remembers the loss of officers Clark and Shelton
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In a community with a population pushing a million people, it's impossible to have everything come to a stop. There are schools to get to, appointments to meet, errands to run. Life just keeps moving.
But then came that spring week in 2007. It was the closest you can come to a collective halt. We are all trying to come to grips with what had just happened. Two young police officers assassinated, right here in our city.
Most of us didn't know them, but in just a few short hours it felt like we did. Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark could have been our brothers. Their widows could have been our sisters.
"It was brutal. All you can do is listen," former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory said as he looked back on that time a decade ago. "Yet, the community outpouring of support was an inspiration."
A community coming together as one is the image that still burns brightest for many today. Traffic stopping, people coming out of their homes and businesses, children holding flags. It was our way to honor Jeff, Sean, and their families as they made the most painful ride imaginable.
McCrory saw those moments as well as he made the trip to Calvary Church in south Charlotte for the funerals. A mayor, known for backslaps and smiles, handshakes and celebration was now tasked with standing before the entire community on its saddest day to tell us tomorrow would be better.
"I remember at the funeral it was Officer Clark's funeral, the first funeral, I made the mistake before going up of looking at his widow," recalled McCrory. "It was tough. I remembered 'I'm not sure I can do this'."
He made it through and so did our city. And in time, we went back to our business, routines returned to normal and those awful spring days of 2007 faded into our memories. This week, however, we are reminded of the sacrifice of all those who serve and the feeling of loss that surely has never gone away for those closest to Officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark.
"I think the message we can say is we shouldn't forget. Not just the tragedy itself, but the community coming together to support our police officers," said McCrory. "Maybe this sad anniversary will bring back those feelings of coming back together again, recognizing the men and women in blue are one of us."
Ten years later, that too is worthy of a community stopping to think about, once again.
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