by GLENN COUNTS / NewsChannel 36 / www.wcnc.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Officer Fred Thornton was just months away from retirement when he died February 25, after a “flash bang” device exploded at his home.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral on March 1. Just over a week later his widow, Linda, sat down with NewsChannel 36 reporter Glenn Counts to talk about her loss and her husband’s legacy.
“I miss him like there’s no tomorrow,” she says. “I just miss him. I miss feeling him, I just miss him and I will always do that.”
Words come easy to Linda Thornton; she is much like her late husband in that way. The day she lost Fred he had just arrived home from a SWAT deployment and she met him in the driveway.
“He gets out of his car at the exact same time and he said ‘hello wife, do you want to go out for dinner?’” Linda remembers. “He gave me a kiss and I said ‘yeah, but you decide where we’re going to go.’ I got my packages, walked in the door and two minutes later it went off.”
The ‘it’ she is referring to is the flash bang distraction device that SWAT officers carry to deal with difficult suspects.
Linda says she could not have imagined the device being so dangerous.
“This is a device that is not meant to cause harm,” she explains. “It’s a deterrent, I guess.”
Even during these difficult times, Linda manages to keep a smile on her face, especially when looking at old photographs or mementos the couple accumulated during their 17 years together. But grieving is not easy.
“It’s when the quiet comes and you’re alone again, sometimes it’s unbearably difficult,” she says.
Through her pain, Linda has been comforted by her police family and the fact that her husband was living his dream by being a SWAT team member.
“I know he would want me to be okay, I do,” she says. “I have no doubts about that and I will be… just with a big hole in my heart.”
Emotional Graveside Service For Officer Thornton:
Photos From Officer Thornton’s Funeral Service:
Photos From Officer Thornton’s Funeral Procession:
NewsChannel 36 reporter Glenn Counts will have more details from his interview with Linda Thornton tonight on NewsChannel 36 at 11 p.m.