PARIS, Tenn. (WKRN) – It has been less than a week since Sonny Melton and 57 other lives were cut short.
On Saturday, Melton’s body was flown back to Nashville accompanied by his wife.
His body was escorted through his hometown, Big Sandy, so his friends and family could begin their final goodbyes.
“We see all the bad things that go on, but you never see the Sonny’s out there that are the good, solid people,” said Benton County Sheriff Kenny Christopher.
With tears in his eyes, Christopher brought his longtime friend home one last time.
“I’m so proud of you and he said thank you and I said I love you Sonny and he said I love you too,” Christopher recalled telling Melton last time he saw him.
Christopher was one of many escorting Melton’s body and his family back to Big Sandy, Tennessee.
“When you see it nationally, it doesn’t hit home like this does,” Christopher told News 2.
He remembers the last conversation the two had while Melton was working at the emergency room in town.
“I said, I couldn’t be prouder of you. You are doing exactly what you need to be doing. You definitely love people and take care of them,” said Christopher.
Christopher said he is thankful for that conversation.
“For him to leave me with a memory of Sonny like that, yeah, that’s a blessing. That’s a God’s blessing,” Christopher said.
At times, Christopher was unable to hold back his emotions before leaving Nashville International Airport.
“I can’t help it, I loved the kid,” said an emotional Benton County Sheriff.
He said Melton was a prime example of how we all should be.
“Sonny set a standard. If all of our young people now, if they could fall in line like that,it would be a great country again,” said Christopher.
He said that is why the entire county is feeling the pain of his loss.
“It is a small community, everybody knows everybody and its so sad for our entire community,” Christopher said.
He said with help from each other and a hug here and there, they will make it through this tragedy.
“His family is just rock solid. They are what America is made of,” said Christopher.
A public visitation is set for Monday and a funeral on Tuesday for Melton at Big Sandy High School. Both are open to the public.