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End of Watch: Sgt. Nick Risner honored with hero’s ride

Published: Oct. 2, 2021 at 1:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2021 at 11:59 AM CDT
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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WAFF) - Sgt. Nick Risner served the community of Sheffield for more than eight years. Risner gave the ultimate sacrifice on October 1, 2021, after he was gunned down protecting the community he loved so much.

Risner started his career in protecting the people he loved when he joined the U.S. Army Reserve and served for eight years. He then moved to the Sheffield Police Department and began working as a K-9 officer for the force.

Making the ultimate sacrifice

On Friday, October 1, Risner was one of several officers that responded to a call after someone reported a person was laying on the road on Avalon Ave., police later said that person was a victim. Officers arrived at what they thought was just a hit and run but they discovered the victim had been shot. Witnesses were able to give the police a vehicle description.

Sheffield Police later found the vehicle in Muscle Shoals and a police chase began. The chase ended behind the old Southgate Mall in Muscle Shoals. The suspect began to fire at officers and officers returned fire. The suspect was shot but so were two Sheffield Police officers. One was hit on their bullet-proof vest but Sgt. Risner was shot and taken to Huntsville Hospital.

Sgt. Risner’s family was by his side the entire time he was in the hospital. His brother, Billy Risner, broke the tragic news that Nick had succumbed to his injuries. Sgt. Risner died at 9:52 a.m. on Saturday morning, he was just 40-years-old.

Sheffield Chief of Police Ricky Terry said Risner died a hero and even though he is no longer with us, he is continuing to save lives since he was an active organ donor. Risner’s body was transported to Birmingham on Saturday night for a full autopsy at a forensics lab. As his body was being moved from Huntsville Hospital, he was given a fond farewell by local officers and first responders.

Sgt. Nick Risner is survived by his parents and his daughter.

Remembering a hero

Many police departments and first responders in The Tennessee Valley showed support for the Risner family after Nick’s heroic sacrifice in the line of duty.

“Our hearts go out to Sgt. Nick Risner and his family today. It’s never easy to hear about the loss of an officer’s life, much less of one so close to home,” The Florence Police Department said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Our hearts go out to Sgt. Nick Risner and his family today. It's never easy to hear about the loss of an officer's life,...

Posted by Florence Alabama Police Department on Saturday, October 2, 2021

“His sacrifice and the pain it brings is a testament to the heart of service he and other Law Enforcement Officers have for their communities,” Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett said.

“We mourn alongside the Sheffield Police Department in the loss of Sgt. Nick Risner. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and the men and women of the Sheffield PD.,” Decatur Police said.

The north Alabama community came out to support Risner, his family and friends by hanging blue ribbons supporting him and his ultimate sacrifice.

Governor Kay Ivey also remembered Risner’s heroic sacrifice. On Saturday, Gov. Ivey posted on her official Twitter page saying, “I’m devastated to learn Sheffield Police Sgt. James “Nick” Risner succumbed to his injuries this morning. I offer my heartfelt prayers to his family, fellow officers & community.” Ivey said Risner was the third officer shot within 24 hours.

A hero returns home

On Monday, October fourth, Sgt. Nick Risner made his final trip home with a “hero’s ride”. Risner’s body was taken to Birmingham over the weekend where his organs were harvested for donations, so even in death, he continued to serve others. The procession started from Huntsville Hospital all the way to Florence where he will be put to rest.

Law enforcement agencies from all over the Tennessee Valley escorted Sgt. Risner’s body all the way to Florence. People who were there to watch the procession, had tears in their eyes, hands on their hearts, and some were saluting as they remembered how much Sgt. Risner has done for the Shoals community.

Those who gathered said Risner was the type of man who would introduce himself to anybody and no one was a stranger to him.

Friends of Risner, Ashlyn Hill and Kenzie Liles, said he was a good man and spent almost all of his time putting others before himself no matter what.

They remembered how he used to play sports with his daughter and how he would always be there for everyone, even in uniform.

“Every time I saw him he would always come and give us a big hug, like every single time. I think he deserves all this plus so much more. I think it’s just crazy that everyone’s coming together right now for him,” said Hill.

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