PINEVILLE, Ark. — Water cannons release across a law enforcement escort for fallen Stone County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Stephen.
The small north Arkansas towns of Calico Rock and Pineville stood watching the procession down Main Street, with American flags lining the way and God Bless the USA playing in the background underneath a symphony of sirens
It’s as painful as it is patriotic to watch for Stephen’s parents Linda and Joe.
Joe Stephen is also the mayor of Pineville.
“I would have never dreamed that the flags would be flying at half mass,” Joe Stephen said.
“…For our boy,” Linda responded.
They’re completing each other’s sentences, while their hearts are now incomplete.
“He had his mark on the world,” Linda said.
Their son, Mike Stephen was born to serve.
“Mike used to say ‘somebody’s got to do it, and that’s what we do,'” Mayor Joe Stephen said.
He bore many titles: Stone County Deputy, Pineville Fire Chief and Army veteran, which all come with risks.
“He went to work knowing that this could be this way anytime,” Mayor Joe said.
Thursday morning he went from knowing, to experiencing.
Stephen and two other deputies were called to a house in Fox when gunfire erupted.
Stephen died at the scene.
One of Stephen’s brothers told their parents the news.
“Of course we all screamed and cried. It just couldn’t compute in my mind that he could be gone,” Linda said.
Arkansas State Police confirm the suspect, Samuel Fullerton died, and Erika Johnson was injured but OK.
The family says they’ll be OK too, looking toward their faith and believing Stephen is with his son Joe who he lost last year.
“You know, Joe and Mike are together and I know God found something for them to do in heaven together,” Linda said.
A future they look forward to, after their son lived a life they’re proud of.
“We’re honored to be his parents.”