COVINGTON, Ga. — A man of integrity.
A man who loved to laugh.
"Just all of those words that you think a Superman would be."
For people in Newton and Rockdale Counties, that person is Almond Turner.
The death of the former assistant police chief and beloved fixture in his community has left them hurting.
"We’re in a state of shock. This is the man who kept us safe," another mourner said.
Turner was well-known, loved and respected in his community, as a former assistant police chief, deacon and school board member.
Police said Turner's nephew used an AK-47 to open fire Saturday at a family event in Meridian, Mississippi, firing five shots and killing Turner. Christopher Denson was arrested for Turner’s death, after a search.
“It’s not fair," said Springfield Baptist Church's Pastor Eric Lee. "For more than 45 years in law enforcement to die of gun violence at a family gathering.”
Lee walked into Turner’s office Sunday, hoping to see his friend sitting there, watching the security cameras as he’d done for three years. But the chair has since become a bittersweet shrine to Turner, who last month helped facilitate the church’s gun buy-back program.
"To go from getting guns of the street and advocating to end family violence - to being a victim of family violence is a bit much to stomach," Lee said.
At the Newton County Board of Education, there’s another empty chair. Turner’s served there for over 20 years.
Even though the room is empty, for Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Chairman of the Board, Shakila Henderson-Baker, his spirit still fills the space.
"His strength and leadership will guide us through these dark days that we’re facing," Fuhrey said.
Photos: Former Covington Assistant Police Chief Almond Turner
Turner was instrumental in getting security cameras installed in schools and on buses throughout the county. They call Turner the safety guy - a man who kept watch on everyone. Even keeping watch during this interview - his picture visible right behind the shoulders of those school board members.
"Last week alone, I talked to him Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and I will just miss all of those things," Henderson-Baker recalled. "He is a true man of his word."
At Covington Police headquarters, Capt. Ken Malcom is re-watching the retirement video he put together for Turner back in 2016. Turner helped hire him.
"I was a 19-year-old kid who knew nothing about law enforcement, and he was my mentor and he taught me so much about not only the job, but how to be a good person and treat people," Malcom said.
Turner’s family called Malcom after he was killed. The captain drove to Mississippi to bring them back to Georgia. Pastor Lee said they hope to finalize a home going service for Turner after Thanksgiving
Meanwhile, Malcom said Turner's loss leaves a gaping hole in the community.
“Not only did we lose a very, very good man, we lost history when someone took his life yesterday," he said, choking up over the thought.
Ask anyone who knew him, they’ll tell you Turner is irreplaceable. And they’ll also tell you, they’re glad they were lucky to know someone like Almond Turner.