Hundreds gather to pay respects to Madison officer
MADISON — Randy Tyler, a retired career law enforcement officer who had signed on part-time with Madison PD seven years ago because he still had a desire to serve his community, was laid to rest here Friday after being shot by a deranged man in a hostage situation last week in Brandon.
Mitch Tyler, Randy’s older brother, said he was stunned by the number of people on the side of the road who came out to support their family and pay their respects to his brother.
“It was amazing seeing how many people were on the side of the road on Highway 51,” He said. “Amazing.”
Though the funeral service was private, the public was encouraged to stand on the side of the road as the funeral procession left Parkway Church and ended at the Natchez Trace Cemetery.
Randy Tyler's funeral procession passed down Jackson Street in Ridgeland.
Hundreds of officers from police departments across the state were part of the procession, including Madison, Gluckstadt, Canton, Brandon, Flowood, Gulfport, Oxford, Byram, McComb, Capitol Police, Reservoir Police, and even officers from as far away as Louisiana and Texas.
Steve Middleton, one of the people standing along Jackson Street, said Tyler’s death is hard for a small community.
“This is still a close community,” Middleton said. “We know each other and depend on each other. The most important thing we can do is be out here today. I wish all of this was avoided and we feel for the family. Everyone knows someone in this community and it hits hard.”
“Randy Tyler trained a lot of people,” he said. “He contributed to a safe community where you don’t have to worry and your kids can play outside, and you can sleep safely at night. Sometimes we don’t see heroes that are within arms reach and losing one is very hard.”
Donna Roberts and Jennifer Hart where also present and said when Tyler was Ridgeland’s police chief he had a great police force and that legacy has carried over.
Roberts said Tyler’s funeral procession was unlike anything she has ever seen in her life.
“It was emotional,” she said.
Hart said it’s amazing that officers risk their lives every day and don’t ask for anything in return.
“We try to do anything we can to show them how much they’re appreciated,” Hart said. “If you see someone in a uniform, thank them for the job they do.”
In front of the cemetery, Chandler Parker of Canton was there with her sister-in-law and some of their children.
“A whole bunch of our family is law enforcement and we wanted to come out and show our respect,” Parker said.
Henry Wilson of Madison said he “wanted to pay his respects.” He said he did not know Tyler personally but had the privilege of talking to him on a few occasions.
“He was a good man and I wish his family well,” Wilson said.
Rose Hopper said that she did not know Tyler, either but had tremendous respect for the work law enforcement and other first responders do.
“They put their lives on the line so we can feel safe,” Hopper said. “I grieve for the family. Want to show them that we support them and appreciate them.”
She said she was proud to live in a community that respected the work these men and women do.
Reaction poured in from all over with Gov. Tate Reeves saying, “He is a hero and our state will never forget him.”
Mitch Tyler said his brother was “pretty mischievous” growing up in Flora. He said they liked to ride horses and were big fans of Westerns as kids, often playing cowboys and Indians on their family farm.
He said they would show calves with 4-H and often competed against each other.
“Sometimes he would pick the best calf and sometimes I would,” Mitch Tyler said.
As they got older, Mitch said he and his brother continued to connect with an interest in cars.
“I remember he had a Pontiac TransAm that could really fly,” Mitch Tyler said. He also remembered a Mercury cougar that the brothers worked on together.
Before joining Madison PD, Randy Tyler retired as the Chief of Police in Ridgeland.
Chief Tyler was a graduate of the 228th Session of the F.B.I. National Academy in Quantico, Va., and was an active member of the Mississippi Chapter of the F.B.I. National Academy Associates.
Tyler was hired as the Ridgeland Police Chief in June 2014 and held the position until the summer of 2015. He succeeded Chief Jimmy Houston following his retirement. Tyler had been assistant chief for 12 years under Houston, as well as serving as Interim Chief while Houston ran for Madison County Sheriff in 2011. He had started with RPD in October of 1987.
Mitch Tyler says exactly what drew his brother to law enforcement is still a mystery to him.
“I don't know if he was just watching Starsky and Hutch or what,” Micth Tyler said.
He said he remembers one day his brother said he was going to enroll in law enforcement classes at Hinds Community College and that that was it. He noted that he was certain his brother had found a profession he loved.
“He loved what he did and dedicated himself to it,” Mitch Tyler said. “We are all going to miss him.”