SEBRING (FOX 13) - It’s been an emotional and powerful week already as the Highlands County community continues to honor one of their fallen deputies. The tributes continued into Thursday morning, when the remains of Deputy William Gentry were brought back home, providing opportunity for residents to pay their respects.
Deputy Gentry donated his organs to more than 70 people, giving others a second chance at life. This morning's procession began at the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office in Winter Haven to bring his body back to Highlands County. U.S. flags were raised by ladder trucks allowing the the motorcade line, and the ambulance carrying his body, to travel underneath it. Many street corners were lined with people paying their respects to Deputy Gentry.
The ambulance escorted by a law enforcement motorcade, traveled south on Highway 17, before turning east on Highway 60 in Bartow. The procession reached the county line by 10 a.m., and proceeded to Stephenson-Nelson Funeral Home on the Sebring Parkway.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night in Deputy Gentry’s honor, where 1,200 attended the fireman’s Field in Sebring, according to the sheriff’s office. Many wore his badge number across their chests – 2247 -- vowing that his murder will lead to a closer community.
Deputy Gentry was fatally shot Sunday night after responding to a call that a man killed his neighbor’s cat in a Lake Placid neighborhood. The suspect, Joseph Ables, claims he “blacked out” and doesn’t remember shooting the deputy.
The Florida Deputy Sheriff's Association has set up a GoFundMe account to benefit Deputy Gentry family’s which can be found here: gofundme.com/5iqsc9c. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is also accepting checks. They ask anyone who is interested to call 863-446-0003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
On Tuesday, a public memorial will be held at 11 a.m. at the Highlands New Sun Center, located at 781 Magnolia Avenue