Many East Carolina residents understand what the Nash county community is going through with the loss of their deputy, Warren "Sneak" Lewis. Three other counties in the east have also dealt with the loss of law enforcement officers recently. In Lenoir county, Detective Allen Pearson was gunned down responding to a call of a man in the woods with a gun. Then in December of 2010, Martin county deputy, Charlie Brown died during a exchange of bullets with a suspect in Williamson. Almost a year ago, Greene county deputy, Jon Willis was also shot and killed during a call.
Greene county deputy Jon Willis died last July, responding to a domestic dispute call. A memorial at the Green County Courthouse is just a few feet from flags flying at half-staff Monday to honor Nash county deputy Warren Lewis.
"It's always sad when you lose someone, it's a loss to you personally, but it's a loss to the community," said Gene Smith.
Melissa Lopergolo, the local florist, recalls hearing of Willis' death.
"It was devastating shock!" said Lopergolo.
For a small community, Willis' death was felt by all.
"He is a fixture. It was a fixture here. It was just devastating, no one expects that," said Lopergolo.
In the days, weeks and months after- the healing began.
"We understand that he knew what could happen and we feel his heart was in the right place so that helps us get through this time easier," said Lopergolo.
Some never expected it to happen in their community.
"It was very sad. You see a lot on TV- events occurring in other areas, but when it hits home, someone you know. or someone who knew the deputy, it takes a part of the community away," said Smith.
Honoring their sacrifice is how residents now say they get through the pain.
"We just pull together and pray. That's how we cope," said Smith.
So far this year, there have been 83 deputy deaths across the country with 35 deaths due to gunfire. According to the Officer Down Memorial website, that's up 25% from the year before.