ANKENY, Iowa (WHO) — A procession escorted fallen Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith to his home in Independence on Sunday. Law enforcement and supporters honored Smith, who was killed in the line of duty during a standoff in Grundy Center Friday night.
Smith, a 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, was shot and killed attempting to arrest 41-year-old Michael Thomas Lang, who barricaded himself inside his residence, authorities said. Lang is charged with first-degree murder for Smith’s death and remains hospitalized in critical condition after getting shot multiple times by law enforcement.
“Sgt. Jim Smith died a hero,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said Saturday. “He sacrificed himself protecting others.”
Members of Iowa State Patrol met at the Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny where Smith’s body was loaded into a hearse. He was escorted nearly three hours to Independence. People parked on highway overpasses to pay their respects to Smith as law enforcement escorted his body down the interstate.
“This is a really special moment for me. I just wanted to show my respects because I always felt something towards law enforcement, as my dad used to be in it. It’s just close to my heart,” said William Spencer, a spectator of the procession.
Smith is the 11th trooper to die in the line of duty in the history of the Iowa State Patrol. He is just the second state trooper to be fatally shot in the line of duty, according to law enforcement records.
“Sgt. Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two, and a pillar of the community,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said Saturday. “I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss. Today we are once again reminded of the selfless sacrifices the brave men and women in uniform make. Let us never forget their bravery and that of their loved ones.”
Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff on the day of Smith’s funeral. A date has not yet been announced.