LAKE CHARLES — Louisiana State Police Trooper Steven Vincent’s funeral procession Saturday drew thousands of people wanting to pay their respects, including law enforcement officers who came from around the country.
Authorities had projected about 4,000 people to show up to honor Vincent, a 13-year veteran with State Police. He was shot Aug. 23 while responding to reports of an erratic driver and died the following day.
Residents began lining the streets along the procession’s route as early as 9 a.m. — some with signs, others with lawn chairs and many just with hopes of paying respect to a fallen law officer.
Tabitha Guillory and Erin Holder were among the first groups to begin filing the McNeese State University football stadium parking lot to watch the procession. Both said they felt the need to be present for the day’s proceedings, if only to show that the community was behind Vincent and his family.
They said they also wanted to teach a younger generation the value of law enforcement.
Guillory said her grandson would wear a police officer’s uniform as a costume for years as a child.
“That’s all he wanted to be. He would say he wanted to protect his mommy. He wore it for years,” she said. “It’s important to show children what good police officers like Vincent did for the community and what they mean to the area.”
Holder brought her children to view the procession. As they waited nearby, waving small U.S. flags, Holder said Vincent’s death is a reminder of the worst parts of society.
“It’s sad. It really is, but you want the kids to see what a good person he was,” she said. “You want them to see the community out here supporting all of law enforcement like this.”
Amaya Lawrence, 2, and her grandmother were along the route with their new signs, adorned with shiny letters that read “We respect the blue” and “RIP SR TPR Vincent.”
Amaya’s grandmother, Twila Woods, said the crowd shows Lake Charles, at its core, remains unchanged.
“Vincent’s death is such a tragic thing. It really hit home, and it makes you feel so bad for the family. We’re just glad they can see this support,” she said. “Lake Charles has grown a lot, but it’s still a tight-knit town. Days like this show you that, and that is something that will never change.”