DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A wreath-laying ceremony was held to honor officer Jason Raynor at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
The ceremony was held outside the headquarters of the Daytona Beach Police Department.
“A true hero and a true public servant. That’s how I would like him to be remembered,” Chief Jakari Young said.
[MORE COVERAGE: Memorial for Daytona Beach police Officer Jason Raynor to be held Monday | Listen: Volusia dispatcher honors Officer Jason Raynor in radio call | Daytona Beach community mourns loss of Officer Jason Raynor]
Daytona beach officers lined up saluting as color guard brought a wreath to the front of Raynor’s cruiser. They were surrounded by the community Raynor served to protect.
“People don’t realize what it is like to lose an officer in the line of duty,” said retired chaplain Larry Edwards.
Edwards was one of dozens who showed up to support the grieving officers.
“We need to pray for our officers day in and day out because every time they walk out that door, get in that car, they might not come back,” he said.
Chief Young said the support for the department and Raynor’s family has been overwhelming.
“We’re all having our moments. Everybody is trying to be strong for each other. We’re literally holding each other up,” he said.
After a 57-day fight in the hospital, Raynor died Tuesday night. He was 26 years old.
Raynor was shot in the head while on duty in June while checking on a suspicious vehicle. The officer was with the police department for about three years.
Young spent many of those 57 days by Raynor’s side in the hospital with his mom and sister. Now, he’s helping the family arrange Raynor’s funeral.
“The majority of our officers, including myself as a police chief, this is a first for us. We’ve never been through this before. So it’s extremely difficult,” Young said.
Young said they will keep Raynor’s cruiser in front of the police headquarters until after his funeral Monday. A small memorial has started around it and community members can stop by and pay respects if they wish. The patrol car being used as part of the memorial was one that Raynor used regularly on his patrols. It was also the one he used on the night he was shot, department officials said.
The Daytona Beach Police Department is also gathering private video messages for Raynor’s family. Anyone who would like to send them a message can do via private message at the Daytona Beach Police Department Facebook page. Videos must be submitted by 9 a.m. on Monday.
The man accused of shooting Raynor, Othal Wallace, was caught in a treehouse in Georgia after a 56-hour manhunt. He remains jailed in Volusia County on an upgraded charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors now plan to seek the death penalty against him.