MACON, Ga. — Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith died over the weekend, and people are mourning the loss of a man who cared about the community. Sabrina Burse spoke to some people who knew him.
Law enforcement and people across Central Georgia say Sheriff Smith is gone but is not forgotten. Outside of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, you'll find flowers left behind since he died.
"I'm gonna tell you it's very emotional for me because I've known him for many many years," said Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee.
Massee says he remembers when Smith was elected as the Washington County Sheriff in 1997.
"Just a real pleasant, personable individual. He was very proud to be the sheriff in Washington County and just a real kind human being," said Massee.
Washington County Emergency Management Director Russell Riner posted on Facebook saying, "I lost a very good friend and fellow public safety officer." He went on to call him a "caring and compassionate friend."
The Sandersville Police Department posted, "You are and will always be greatly missed." The Department continued to say, "There will forever be a void in the law enforcement family."
Smith was a native of Washington County and former president of the Georgia Sheriff's Association. During his time as sheriff, Smith organized the county's first K9 unit and a neighborhood watch program as well.
"He was just a really a very pro-law enforcement sheriff and an excellent neighbor," said Massee.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said Sheriff Smith was "the epitome of the very best in a county sheriff."
"All the sheriffs work together. Thomas Smith was very instrumental in that relationship and in that brotherhood," said Massee.
Massee says the funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at Tennille United Methodist Church on Smith Street.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations says Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.