Community rallies behind officers killed in helicopter crash - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Community rallies behind officers killed in helicopter crash

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Students who are part of an after school program run by the city of Atlanta's Parks and Recreation Department made a giant sympathy card for community members to sign.

The children, who are part of Atlanta Teen Leaders and Street Academy, carried the card to the corner where the officers lost their lives.

"On my behalf I would like to dedicate this poster to him," said student Bernard Upkins. 

Upkins is one of more than a dozen who came to the crash site to gather hand written messages for the family.

The pilot, Officer Richard J. Halford, 48, of Lithia Springs, had been with the Atlanta Police Department since 1986. Tactical Flight Officer Shawn A. Smiley, 40, of Lithonia, had been with the department since 2010.

The helicopter crashed at about 10:30 p.m. near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Southwest and Hamilton E. Holmes Drive Northwest, not far from a CVS Pharmacy store.

"I wrote, 'We are very sorry for your loss, God is watching over you,'" Tyreeque Carr, a student at Harper Archer Middle School, said.

"Our hope today is we can get everybody to come out and sign this card and fill it up so when we give it to the family of these officers and Chief George Turner there won't be a space on there," Bruce Griggs with the city's Park and Recreation Department said. "These guys leave out every day hoping they come home to see their families. And unfortunately, with the situation that happened, they did not make it back in.  And we got to show them some love because they are always there for us when we call 911."

The students plan to fill the card with as many messages as possible and present it to the chief of police to give to the families.

"It means a great deal to me," Sharnice Mclane said. "We need them in the community. I sent my deepest condolences to the family from my husband and my kids, that's what I wrote. It's just some type of comfort to them to let them know we care about the families."

Services for Halford will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Jackson Memorial Baptist Church. Services for Smiley will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Atlanta.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved. 

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Two officers were killed when their police helicopter crashed late Saturday night in southwest Atlanta. Read story Atlanta police are mourning the loss of two officers killed in a tragic helicopter crash. More>>

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