CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office was hit hard by the unexpected death of one of their own over the weekend. Law enforcement officials across the state are now mourning the loss of 49-year-old Javier Smith.
Gone too soon, Deputy Smith died on Saturday after suffering from a medical emergency.
“It was such an unexpected hit to our gut and I think that’s what makes it so painful for us today,” Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard told 8News.
The sudden death of the long-time law enforcement deputy has men and women in uniform as well as community members shocked. Sheriff Leonard says he hired Smith years ago and it’s unreal that he’s doing an interview about his life and legacy, recalling his last moment with Smith.
“I just saw him Friday when he left,” said Sheriff Leonard. “He said his goodbyes to everybody as he always does in that soothing voice that he has and nobody knew. Nobody knew that was the last time that we would be able to talk to our friend.”
Emotional tributes have been pouring out online including those from Smith’s church –where he served as a deacon, and several law enforcement agencies.
“I have received hundreds of messages of support from people telling me just how much Javier meant to them,” said Sheriff Leonard.
Smith devoted more than 20 years of his life to law enforcement. The majority of his career was in Charles City County, where he was a deputy for more than a decade and sheriff for eight years. The county’s official Facebook page writing a tribute to the late sheriff, reading in part:
For the last five years, Smith worked as a circuit court deputy at the Chesterfield County Courthouse. Monday was the first day deputies returned to work since news of Smith’s passing and Sheriff Leonard says they’re struggling.
“Deputies are struggling today, especially those who work closest to him.” Sheriff Leonard said. “I think that’s the most heart-wrenching thing here, there was no history, he wasn’t sick, he’s been coming to work every day with the same positive attitude.”
According to an online obituary, Smith was an avid hunter, fisherman and loved gardening. Leonard shared with 8News that the sheriff’s office brought in ‘peer support’ on Monday and through the week to help those who may be having a difficult time coping with the loss.
However, through the emotional struggle they are honoring Smith in their own way. All 300 Chesterfield deputies have shrouded their badges in solidarity and all Chesterfield County flags are at half-staff. Sheriff Leonard says they will remain lowered until Smith is laid to rest.
The Medical Examiner’s Office will determine an official cause of death. Deputy Smith will be laid to rest Wednesday afternoon with his wife of twenty-seven years, children and fellow deputies by his side.
Sheriff Leonard will be delivering a graveside speech along with two others.
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