Residents line streets Friday in honor of fallen deputy

Residents gathered Friday along the streets in Centerville in support of fallen Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brad Johnson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Johnson died June 30 after he and Deputy Chris Poole were shot June 29. Poole’s injuries were not life-threatening.

Austin Patrick Hall, 26, is accused of shooting them both. He was captured after an overnight manhunt not far from the location of the shooting and has been charged with capital murder.

“It’s surreal because it’s one of those things that is not supposed to happen here even though you know full well it can happen anywhere,” said Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley.

Hundreds lined Centreville’s streets and throughout West Alabama in support of Johnson and the loved ones he leaves behind. Johnson’s public funeral was held at the University of Montevallo.

“I will mourn for his family and his children for many years to come,” said Messages of the Cross Motorcycle Ministries member William Slawson. “I just pray they have peace from God and understanding of what has happened.”

The procession passed through the part of the city known as the downtown square and law enforcement from all across the state participated.

This close-knit community was decorated in black and blue ribbons alongside American flags in Johnson’s honor.

“I am flying my flag at home in remembrance of him and the sheriff’s department,” said Centreville resident Carl Griffin. “I support them highly because I spent some time working for the sheriff’s department.”

Former classmate Heather Russell said Johnson’s sense of humor was larger than life.

“He was a jokester,” Russell said. “He was always making people laugh and carrying on conversations. He was all-around amazing.”

Several businesses were closed for the day, including the tax office and the Bibb County Courthouse along with City Café, whose owner said Johnson once came to rescue in a time of need.

“He was a wonderful person,” said City Cafe owner Peggy Smith. “He saved my house from burning to the ground back in December.”

Johnson was buried in a private ceremony at Pineland Memorial Cemetery in Centreville. He was 32 years old and an organ donor.

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