BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — After a nearly 24-hour manhunt last week, deputies say a suspect is behind bars, accused of killing an elderly man in Hernando County.

On Wednesday, 81-year-old Ed Mead’s family and community gathered to celebrate his life and honor the legacy he leaves behind.

“He always introduced me as his work wife, and I was his work husband,” his coworker Betty said.

One memory after another.

“Just absolutely blessing to have known the man,” Mead’s friend Eric said.

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the life of Ed Mead.

The army veteran traveled millions of miles throughout his 35-year career with roadway trucking, and at 81 years old, was still hard at work serving as a safety officer for the High Point Community in Hernando County.

That’s what he was doing on Sept. 28, when deputies say he was killed.

“We’re angry, we’re edgy, [and] we’re sad,” his daughter Melissa Richardson said. “Just lost [and] frustrated.”

Sept. 28 was a heartbreaking day for the Mead family, who has been grieving the loss ever since.

But Wednesday was a celebration, honoring the legacy he leaves behind.

“He was our rock,” Richardson said. “He was the one we went to, the one who took care of everything.”

“He was the go-to guy,” another one of Mead’s daughters Kimberly Semcho said. “Anytime you asked a question or needed help, it was, let’s call dad.”

The community center holds 250 people, and there weren’t enough chairs to seat everyone.

It was a large crowd his three daughters never expected.

“We’re just surprised,” Semcho said. “We knew he was down here for 14 years [and] we knew he talked to people…”

“We just didn’t know how many hearts he touched,” his other daughter Rebecca Mead Tipton said.

Now, Mead’s family wants justice.

“We will fight for this,” Richardson said. “It’s justice for Ed at this point.”

“We don’t want any other family to have to go through what we’ve been going through for the last almost week now,” she continued.

Their question for the killer?

“Why?” Tipton asked. “Why did you take our father away from us?”

“What was so important that you needed that his life was worth?,” Semcho questioned. “Because he would’ve said take the keys, my wallet, my phone, don’t take my life I’ve got family.”

But a more important question, what would they say to their dad if they had one last opportunity?

“We love you, Dad,” Richardson said.

“We love you,” Tipton explained. “I need to talk to him today, I really do.”

And finally, Semcho concluded the interview by saying to her father, “I miss you, and I wish I would’ve hugged you tighter before you left for work.”

If you’d like to donate to the Mead family, you can do so here.