TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - It has been five years since Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt was gunned down during a traffic stop and the Trumann community is working to keep his memory alive.
Late Tuesday night, dozens of people gathered near the Cottonwood Manor Apartments on Pine Avenue, the site of Schmidt's last traffic stop.
The group marked the fifth anniversary of his death.
"He was a good man," said Rethea Goza. "He deserves everything he gets honored by."
Candles lit up the side of the road. A solemn reminder of the events of April 12, 2011.
That night Officer Schmidt pulled over a vehicle with four people inside.
One of the passengers, Jerry Lard, would end up shooting Schmidt and ultimately killing him.
Lard is currently on death row after being convicted of Schmidt's murder.
It is a death that is still felt across the community.
In the five years after his murder, Schmidt's father, Donald Schmidt, has never visited the spot where is son lost his life.
That changed Tuesday night. He was greeted with warm hugs and smiles as everyone shared their memories of Jonathan.
"It's extremely hard," Donald Schmidt told Region 8 News. "It brings home what actually happened to him. My heart still breaks for him."
Among those gathered on Tuesday were Rethea Goza and Ralph Guthrie.
Goza is a family friend. She lives near the site where Schmidt was murdered.
She said it is hard to believe it has been years since that tragic night.
One of the biggest things Goza remembers about Jonathan Schmidt is his kindness.
"He took the time to help the simplest person," Goza said. "Whether it be a kid, adult or a police officer, he always made sure everyone was taken care of. No matter what."
Ralph Guthrie went to school with Schmidt and played sports with him. He said there was never a dull moment.
Guthrie said Jonathan's death was a big loss for the Trumann community and he will never be forgotten.
"He left a legacy behind. He loved what he did and gave the community everything he had and served with all of his heart." Guthrie said.
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