Friends remembered slain Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson as a caring and loyal person who would go to great lengths for those he loved.
“He was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met,” Matthew Stroe, a family friend who went through the police academy with Thompson, said at a memorial service Thursday. “His smile could change a room, his laugh healed your soul, and his goofiness showed you he’s human.”
Thompson was killed in the line of duty while exchanging gunfire with a suspect on March 19. Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez was also wounded in the shooting and is now recovering.
About 3,000 people were expected to attend the memorial service at Central Washington University’s Nicholson Pavilion, including local and regional members of law enforcement.
Before the memorial, residents lined the streets during a procession that honored Thompson. People carried American flags and saluted as the hearse carrying Thompson’s body drove by.
A 14-year veteran of law enforcement, Thompson had served with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office since 2013. The Walla Walla native also worked as a corrections officer and a Central Washington University police officer, following his father, uncle, and brother with a career in law enforcement.
At Thursday's service, Stroe and another friend Jeremy Zender remembered Thompson’s crooked smile, “powerful and unexpected” laugh, and tight hugs.
“This just went from a Lifetime moment to a WWE match in moments,” Stroe said of Thompson’s hugs.
Friends said Thompson always lived life to the fullest, whether it was seeking out new fishing spots or stopping on the side of the road to pick wildflowers for his wife.
They vowed to take care of Thompson’s wife and three children who survive him.
“To raise children you have to build an army of family and friends. Sara, you and Ryan have done just this, and a really good one if I say so myself,” said Josh DeHerrera, a friend and neighbor. “Now is the time none of us have ever dreamed of. It’s deployment time. It’s time to lean on this army, it’s time to believe in this army, and it’s time to trust into this army. It’s time for this army, all of your family and friends, to answer this call.”