ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Hundreds of people paid their respects to fallen St. Louis County Detective Antonio Valentine during his visitation Thursday night.
Friends, family members, and fellow officers lined up at Austin Layne Mortuary in Jennings to say farewell to Valentine, a 14-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department.
“Tony was loved by all. I think if you would ask all of our officers out here, he touched each and every one of us at one point in his career,” said Police Chaplain Byron Watson.
Watson described Valentine as a funny, hardworking man who loved his job and his family. He said the loss has been especially hard for Valentine’s four children, who range in age from 10 to 22.
“Please show love to these children, who have lost her father right at Christmas time,” Watson said. “I cannot even imagine the devastation of losing their father at any time, let alone Christmas time.”
Valentine was killed on Dec. 1 after a driver in a stolen sedan crashed into his unmarked police vehicle near Crete Drive and Chambers Road in Bellefontaine Neighbors. Moments before the crash, Drug Unit Detectives attempted to stop the sedan for an investigation.
Valentine was rushed to Barnes Jewish Hospital, where he died from his injuries. Another detective, who was in the vehicle with Valentine, was treated at the hospital and later released.
Police identified the driver of the other car as 33-year-old Alfred Mayes. He also died from his injuries in the crash. Investigators said Mayes was driving a stolen Jetta.
Rick Kranz, with the County Police Welfare Association, is helping Valentine’s family throughout this week.
“We’re helping them with stuff that they don’t need to worry about at this time,” said Krantz. “We’re helping them with lodging, rental cars, and making sure that they’re fed morning to night.”
A giant American flag, presented by the Fenton Fire District, flew over the visitation site. Chris Heisler also presented a very special flag, the U.S. Honor Flag, to Valentine’s family. The flag has traveled millions of miles across the country since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The flag serves to honor first responders like Valentine, who died in the line of duty.
“We don’t get desensitized to the impact the flag has,” said Heisler. “I’ve seen the family and told them the story. They know that that flag is right there with them. Their loved one isn’t going to be forgotten, and although he’ll be gone his sacrifice will live on.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also ordered all flags across the state to be flown at half-staff for Valentine’s funeral. The funeral is happening Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica in Saint Louis.