Almost 3,000 mourners gathered Tuesday for the funeral of slain Virginia State Police master Trooper Junius A. Walker, who was remembered as a dedicated public servant whose imposing size was offset by a gentle spirit.
Walker, 63, was shot to death Thursday on Interstate 85. His funeral at Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Petersburg, which drew police officers from as far away as Alaska, was followed by a private burial in Brunswick County.
“He was a man of unmistakable integrity, great character, and he was a genuinely kind person,” Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the state police superintendent, told the capacity crowd. “He was built like a grizzly bear, but he had the disposition of a teddy bear.”
Flaherty's predecessor, retired Col. Gerald Massengill, said Walker “carried out his day-to-day mundane duties in such a way that those he came in contact with left feeling good about him as an individual, about his profession and about his agency.”
Walker joined the state police in 1975, and both Flaherty and Massengill worked alongside him early in their careers.
Flaherty recalled that the two used to break up a lot of fights in Stafford County.
“You'd be in the thick of things and feel this presence, and it was J.A.,” Flaherty said. “It was a real keen sense of comfort to know he was there ... and these yahoos you were trying to pull apart had met their match.”
Massengill recalled a similar feeling of comfort upon seeing Walker stretched across the hood of his cruiser with his gun trained on a car thief after a lengthy high-speed pursuit. He also relayed a woman's story about Walker's kindness when he investigated a traffic accident that killed her parents.
“The thing that impressed her the most was J.A. came back to see her after he mother and father had been laid to rest -- came to check on her and her family,” Massengill said. “That speaks volumes.”
It was one of countless acts of kindness by Walker over four decades in law enforcement, according to his colleagues.
“J.A. had a servant's heart,” said retired Master Trooper Charlie Weaver.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said all troopers put their lives on the line for others, and that's exactly what Walker was doing Thursday when he pulled alongside a stopped vehicle on I-85 to see if the driver was all right. That's when Walker was shot.
“He was an incredible public servant, someone who did lay down his life for his friends,” McDonnell said.
Speakers also described Walker as a quiet, humble man who never sought the kind of accolades that came his way.
“He didn't believe in a lot of fanfare for himself,” the Rev. Herbert Anderson said.
Russell E. Brown III, 28, of Chesterfield County is charged with capital murder in Walker's killing. Brown, who allegedly exchanged gunfire with another trooper who came to Walker's aid, also is charged with two felony firearms counts and attempted capital murder. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.