BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Inside Bayside Community Church, a sea of uniforms made up of officers from the Tampa Bay area, Florida’s east coast and beyond.
From the north to south, they came to remember a Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot and killed in the line of duty. Some officers came from Alaska, Delaware and Wisconsin.
On Thursday, they were all one, to honor Joseph Bullock, who was killed in the line of duty Feb. 5.
“He always wanted to be a cop like his dad, who was a jail warden and a chief deputy,” said Col. Gene Spaulding of FHP.
Brad Lowe of the Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Police Department, spoke about his friend.
“Joe was my best friend through thick and thin. I could count on him any day or any night. He always had my back and I always had his back,” Lowe said to a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands.
Lowe said he met Bullock in 1996 when they were stationed on a U.S Air Force base in Minot, N.D. He said their bond was like that of brothers.
“Today we remember and honor Joe for the great man he became. He dedicated his life to serve and protect as many of us here, but he paid the ultimate sacrifice for doing what he loved,” Lowe said.
Members of FHP spoke as did leaders of the agency.
*Watch full memorial service in the video player below:*
The Martin County Sheriff, William Snyder, also spoke, telling the crowd Bullock was the first law officer killed in the line of duty in that county.
His death, after he stopped to help a disabled driver along I-95, has rocked those in the county to the core, the sheriff said.
He added words to those in attendance who devote their lives to help others.
“I look out on this crowd and I do not see men and women in blue or brown or green. I see tan life rafts. I see blue life rafts. And I see green life rafts,” the sheriff said poignantly.
Bullock was born on Sept. 21, 1977, in Warren, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Florida and he graduated from Lemon Bay High School in Charlotte County, according to a memorial service program.
He is survived by his parents, Jon and Val, two sisters, Jessica and Katie, nieces, a nephew and his FHP family.
“I was always looking forward to meeting his family, but not this way. All I can say now is thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Bullock, for my brother from another mother,” said Trp. Michael Coulter, who worked with Bullock in the Fort Pierce area.
Coulter said they would talk work life, family and football. His tribute to his fallen comrade was touching and emotional.
“So goodbye Trooper Bullock. And if heaven’s streets are truly guarded by U.S. Marines, please find the one to take him under his wing like you did me. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again. Love and respect. 693 out,” Coulter said.
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