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HONORING A HERO: How those who knew him are remembering fallen Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith

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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KWWL)- Across Eastern Iowa Sunday, hundreds lined streets and highway overpasses to offer a final salute to a fallen hero, as Sergeant Jim Smith's body was escorted from the state medical examiner's office in Ankeny to his hometown of Independence.

Smith was shot and killed Friday night while attempting to arrest a barricaded suspect, who has been identified as 41-year-old Michael Thomas Lang of Grundy Center.

Smith was a father and husband, leaving behind a wife and two children.

"He was well-liked," Jim Reed said about Sergeant Smith. "You can tell that by the number of people here today."

Reed and his wife babysat Smith's kids and have known the family for many years.

"He was just an all around good guy," Reed said.

Smith took pride in the work he did as a State Trooper and took his job seriously. Smith was a member of the Iowa State Patrol for nearly three decades. The 27-year veteran of the force was a member of the District 10, Oelwein post since the Mid-90s.

Merlin Dodge met him several times while driving out on the roads.

"I drove a little fast every once in a while," Dodge said. "We didn't agree on that, but we agreed on every other thing. This tragedy is just a terrible loss."

Sergeant Smith graduated from the State Patrol's academy in 1993 and worked in the Fairfield post before moving to the Oelwein post in 1996. He was active in his community and church.

"He was a Christian," Dodge said. "He took his faith very seriously and took his job very seriously."

Smith's former neighbor Lain Slife said Smith was just as well respected as a father and community member as a State Trooper.

"He loved his family," Slife said. "He's a family man and a Christian man. He loved his community. He will be missed."

Those who knew him said Sergeant Smith lived the State Patrol's motto of "Courtesy, Service and Protection," in and out of uniform.

"He was proud to help people," Reed said. "There were times he probably got himself into trouble trying to help people."

The tragedy has left both a community and Smith's Iowa State Patrol colleagues forever shaken.

"It is going to be a sore that is going to take a long time to heal," Slife said. "He will be missed, that's for sure. Hopefully not forgotten."

Sergeant Smith was honored in 2018 by the Iowa State Patrol in their "patrol member spotlight."

On Saturday, Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said the men and women of the patrol are hurting from the loss of Sergeant Smith.

"We are hurting. We are angry but rest assured we are not broken," Bayens said. "We will continue to shoulder the burdens of our communities while carrying our own."

Smith is the 11th Iowa patrol trooper to die in the line of duty. The last death was in September 2011 when trooper Mark Toney died in a crash in Warren County as he tried to make a traffic stop.

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Daniel Perreault

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