WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - It's been two years since two West Memphis police officers were gunned down in the line of duty. Officers Bill Evans and Brandon Paudert were killed by a father-son team who belonged to a domestic terrorist movement, Sovereign Citizens.
Paudert was the son of former West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert. Now the former chief may be retired but he's still working to make sure his son didn't die in vain.
Two years ago Paudert never thought he'd be spending his life traveling from police department to police department all across the country. Paudert told abc24.com, "I never dreamed I would lose a child this way. I did. I never dreamed Bill Evans would die the way he did. It was something out of the blue, unexpected but it changes lives, our life, our entire family's lives."
Sunday marked two years since father and son members of the Sovereign Citizens domestic terrorist movement murdered police officer Evans and Paudert's son, Sgt. Brandon Paudert. The former Police Chief says more than a week away from the anniversary of his son's death he began feeling anxious. "It was the second anniversary," Paudert says, "It was pretty rough. As people who have lost their children know, when an anniversary comes up even days and weeks before the anniversary you know it's coming."
Last year the anniversary was met with a sea of blue lights honoring the fallen officers. This year it's been very different. Paudert's family was together for the anniversary, but the next day he was in the Dallas airport, waiting on a flight to Salt Lake City, where he will share his son's story with other officers. "I'm still finding there are officers who have never heard of the Sovereign Citizens," he says, like his son and, at the time, most of the West Memphis Police Department.
Paudert's initiative to educate law enforcement has grown significantly in just a few months. He travels to at least two cities a week. Because of Paudert's efforts, other states are taking up the initiative on their own and a new book on domestic terrorism will feature the nightmare of West Memphis. "I have to continue on this. It will save lives, it has saved lives and I've gotten so many e-mails and phone calls from officers attending that class, they know it saved their life, it makes it all worth while."
Paudert and his family now live in Missouri. He retired as West Memphis Police Chief last summer. He says as long as there are officers who don't know about Sovereign Citizens, he will continue his movement for education.