HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- As Trey Sutton's family prepares to say goodbye to their son who was about to get married and was at the beginning of a career as a Henrico County Police Officer, it now falls to his chief to lead the police department.
Henrico County Police Chief Eric English said this last week has been heartbreaking for him and for the rest of the department. He said there's nothing easy about preparing for a funeral, but said he will make every resource available to those he leads.
"You can't prepare for it, you know. You do understand that it can occur, but I don't think there's any playbook that really gets you prepared for the tragedy that we're suffering right now," English said.
English, who has over 30 years of law enforcement experience, said the last week has been a challenge for him, for his division and for the law enforcement community.
Officer Sutton was just 24 years old and a rookie officer when he was killed in an accident in northern Henrico after just weeks on the job.
"It's difficult because you got a young man that was just beginning his journey in life with the department, about to get married and his life was just cut short. So it's difficult. It's difficult telling the parent, going to a parent, telling them that their loved one is gone," English said.
English said his training has prepared him to lead in a time like this. However, at the end of the day, his heart goes out to the Sutton family. The loss cuts deep as English himself is a father and a grandfather.
"I'm in my mid-50s, but you kind of look back on your life when you were at that age. It's difficult to fathom someone's life was taken. So it is tough," English said.
He said as people across central Virginia and beyond have reached out in support, it has helped the Henrico Police Department shoulder what he calls a heavy burden.
"It's just been overwhelming. The support that we've received not only from the community but just nationwide. I've gotten phone calls and cards from as far away as California, Ohio. People really care about law enforcement. They care about what has happened in his division with one of our own brothers so the community support, phone calls, text messages, the prayers have been overwhelming for the division and we certainly appreciate that because it does help ease the pain just a little bit," English said.
The chief is hopeful that as the world learns more about Officer Sutton, they'll carry that interest and concern to other members of law enforcement.
"I think it's important for our community to really get to know individuals in this profession that take on that role. As you know, members of the community tried to do the right thing, trying to serve our community," English said.
Chief English said that while Wednesday will be a difficult day for the Sutton family and fiancée Zoe Pierson, it is key for the community to make sure to support them long after the ceremonies have ended.