CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thousands of law enforcement officers walked and lined the streets of uptown Charlotte Tuesday morning in the funeral procession for Officer Fred Thornton.
"I've never witnessed anything like this before," said Charlotte resident Mike Jenkins. "Very poignant. Very sad."
Jenkins never met Thornton, but he was part of a host of people who lined Davidson Street as the funeral procession for the fallen officer passed by.
"He essentially gave his life for the citizens of Mecklenburg and Charlotte. It's the least I could do," Jenkins said.
Officers marched silently and bagpipers played as a horse-drawn carriage carried Thornton's casket from the Law Enforcement Center to First Baptist Church.
For Belmont police officer and SWAT member David Lancaster, Tuesday was about honoring the 28-year police veteran and what he stood for.
"It means so much to me. Words really can't describe," Lancaster said. "It's a brotherhood we've always had. When we put this badge on we never know when we're coming back home. It's just a tragedy."
"It's never easy when a brother, whether it's the police department or fire department, loses their life in the line of duty," said Greg Sharp with the Charlotte Fire Department. "You always want to show your respects."
Officers from as far away as West Virginia came to Charlotte Tuesday for Thornton's funeral.
He died Friday after a "flash-bang" device used by the SWAT team accidentally exploded at his home.