ROCK HILL, S.C. — Thousands of people from across the Carolinas and beyond attended a memorial service Monday for York County Detective Mike Doty, who was killed in the line of duty last week.
Doty died Wednesday, a day after investigators said he and three other officers were ambushed following a domestic violence call in York County.
Fellow officers lined the route Monday as the hearse carrying Doty's coffin moved from the funeral home to Calvary Church on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte for the service.
The Celebration of Life service started at noon.
There was a long and respectful silence as Doty's family and fellow SWAT team members took their seats.
The SWAT team entered the church wearing their camouflage uniforms, honoring Doty, before Dr. John H. Munro delivered opening comments.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson next spoke to the thousands who had gathered inside the church, telling the crowd that public speaking was not his strong suit.
"I struggled to find what to say today,” Tolson said. “Public speaking is not my thing but I knew I'd do it for Mike.”
Tolson said Doty would want him to share lighthearted stories about him, and said Doty had a tremendous love for people.
"Everyone loved him -- except underage drinkers," the sheriff said as the audience laughed.
Tolson thanked the community for its outpouring of support, and also thanked the other local law enforcement agencies.
"I ask that we remain united tomorrow, the next day, next week, and in the months and year ahead and beyond to support our law enforcement who do such a tough a tremendous job," Tolson said.
Tolson specifically thanked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, for the “utmost respect, compassion and dignity” that they’ve shown Doty.
He called CMPD top-notch, and said, “If anyone ever tells Chief Kerr Putney differently, give them directions to go around York County and not through it, because they're not welcome."
Tolson also recognized the three other officers who were wounded in the shooting. All three men were in attendance.
"If you were Mike Doty's friend, he would always tell you the truth,” Tolson said. “It might hurt your feelings, but that's what he did for his friends."
Tolson also honored Doty for his passion for those suffering from drug addiction and the current opioid crisis before sharing a Gospel message, telling the audience that “we learned last week that we’re not promised our next breath.”
Doty’s father spoke next, saying, “(Mike) would want us to look at the positives in this situation. It has served to bring our family closer together. We've become reacquainted with old friends. We've seen fractured relationships begin mending. We need to concentrate on the good things in this situation. The family wants to thank each and every person that has allowed us to celebrate Mike and made this such a special day.”
Doty’s brother, Joshua, addressed the crowd next, reading from Romans 12. He said to honor his brother by those words so that his death would not be in vain.
“My brother ran towards danger, while others ran from it,” Joshua said. “He helped those who needed it. That was his love language.”
He said that one of his brother’s last wishes was to be an organ donor and he hopes his donation will save lives.
"My little brother was a servant. He served others and that's how he loved," Joshua said.
Many officers from other law enforcement agencies attended the service to pay their respects to a brother most of them never knew.
"Just paying tribute to a fallen brother," said Officer David Myers, with the West Columbia Police Department. "It refocuses you on your mission and gives you a little pause."
Dwight Burns, who supervises the state probation and parole office in York County, told Channel 9 that he knew Doty and why he served.
"The support that's been given from the community has definitely put my soul at rest," Burns said.
Shaun Corbett, who started the Cops and Barbers program, never met Doty, but said he felt it was important to attend the service.
"The days of it being us against them, I think those days are over," Corbett said. “It's not badges versus citizens. We're all people -- that's why it's important for me to be here today.”
Following the service, there was a large procession to Forest Hills Cemetery in Rock Hill, where Doty was laid to rest. Dozens of residents waited near the cemetery to say farewell to the fallen officer. Many said the tragedy has made them realize more than ever the value of police and other first responders.
"Just to pay my respect to the family and the other officers and people who put their life on the line for us," resident Kimberly Hunt said.
Doty, 37, along with three other law enforcement officers, was shot while searching for domestic violence suspect Christian McCall. Tolson said McCall ambushed the officers while they were hunting for him in a dark and heavily wooded area.
One of those officers -- Sgt. Buddy Brown of the York County Sheriff's Office -- was still being treated at the hospital over the weekend but was able to attend Doty's funeral Monday.
(Sgt. Mike Doty, Sgt. Randy Clinton, Sgt. Buddy Brown, Sgt. Kyle Cummings)
York County Police Sgt. Kyle Cummings was released from the hospital last week, while York County Sgt. Randy Clinton was treated and released Friday night.
When Doty died a day after being shot, support poured in for his family and the surviving officers.
On Sunday night, hundreds of people gathered for an emotional vigil at the York County Courthouse where they lit candles and prayed for Doty’s family. Doty's brothers in blue soaked in the support as they wore black bands over their badges for the fallen detective.
"My officers tell me how amazed they are at the support that they have witnessed personally, and through events and support like this, and it's helping them," Sheriff Kevin Tolson told the crowd Sunday evening.
Volunteers also gathered Sunday to wash dozens of law enforcement vehicles that were to be in Monday's funeral procession.
Jake Reed, who is a firefighter as well as the owner of Firehouse Auto Detailing, led the effort. He called it an honor to give all law enforcement involved in Doty's funeral a free car wash.
"We always have each other's backs as far as police, fire, EMS, everyone,” said Reed. “We have each other's backs. We're all one team, so when something like this happens, me personally, I looked for any way I could help."
Faith Assembly Church in Rock Hill offered its parking lot and water to wash the cars after so many officers planned to bring their vehicles.
Investigators have released very little information about the suspected shooter, McCall. Police were responding to a domestic violence call at his home on Farrier Lane late last Monday night.
McCall was shot by deputies and underwent surgery; he remains in the hospital. He has not officially been charged yet in connection with the shootings.
His criminal record includes one arrest for assaulting an officer decades ago.
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