HICO –– Two dozen flower arrangements with a ribbon that reads "Daddy" caught the light early Tuesday morning as the sun climbed over the eastern wall of the old rock stadium at Hico High School.
This 3,000-seat stadium was the site of Sgt. Lance McLean's memorial. The town of 1,400 closed down on Tuesday morning to pay its respects to a fallen son.
The sergeant was killed Friday in a shootout with a sexual assault suspect who wounded an officer earlier in the day. While the officer survived, McLean died from a gunshot to the head the following morning at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
The 38-year-old was remembered as a jokster who loved his two children, who are both special needs, as well as his wife.
“They could look into each other’s eyes and know exactly what the other was thinking,” said Pastor Dace Clifton, who spoke during the hour-long service.
In the nineties, McLean played on the same football field where 200 American flags flew Tuesday morning. Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers built the stadium during the Roosevelt administration.
Clifton, spoke eloquently about Lance's life during the service, at one time saying it was natural to ask how something so awful could happen to someone like McLean.
"Lance had a passion for helping people," Clifton said. "Many of us may be wondering why. We cannot answer that."
Members of the local SWAT team all wore red bandannas at the service to honor Lance.
Speakers said everyone in Hico knew McLean. Many of the town’s shops and even the local bank closed their doors so employees could pay their respects. Town residents who couldn't make it to the service lined Highway 6, which was lined with American flags. The procession took more than 20 minutes to make its way to a county cemetery.
One of the ladies who waited all morning long to watch the procession come down Highway 6 was Robin Hefner. In a tragic twist of irony, it was her son Shawn, lost while serving in Afghanistan, that was the last local man to receive such a touching tribute.
“They knew each other," she told News 8. "It’s just very hard."
The man who fatally wounded McLean, Ricky McCommas, was shot and killed in the exchange of gunfire. In an interesting revelation, Sheriff Roger Deeds said Tuesday morning that he believed McLean's shots were the ones that stopped the man.
Also in attendance at the service was Chad Davis, the Granbury police officer who heroically tried to stop McCommas before being shot himself.
He was released from the hospital on Monday, partly so would be able to attend McLean’s farewell service and graveside burial.