By Bill Hanna
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
HICO, Texas — As he remembered the life of Hood County sheriff's Sgt. Lance McLean, Granbury police chaplain John Knox recalled the time he was touched by the deputy's compassion.
Knox and Sgt. McLean went to a woman's house to tell her that a loved one had died in a car wreck. He comforted the woman with such grace that Knox felt as if Sgt. McLean was the chaplain instead of him.
"He was very kind to this lady that was in such undeniable pain," Knox said.
Sgt. McLean's empathy, willingness to help and his mischievous sense of humor were remembered Tuesday as hundreds of people — including officers from around the state — filled Hico Tiger Stadium to pay their respects.
Sgt. McLean, 38, was shot in the head Friday by Ricky Don McCommas, 49, as he answered a disturbance call in a subdivision outside of Granbury. He died on Saturday after being taken off life support.
McCommas fled to Granbury and was fatally shot outside City Hall after wounding Granbury police officer Chad Davis.
Davis, 37, was released from a Fort Worth hospital on Monday afternoon and attended the services in a wheelchair.
A big Rangers fan
A loving father with two special-needs children, Sgt. McLean was described as someone who made people laugh whether he was on- or off-duty.
Members of the Hood County SWAT team donned red bandanas for their Sgt. McLean — a team member who always wore one around his neck, much to their commander's chagrin. SWAT team members kneeled in front of the casket and served as pallbearers, carrying the casket off the field.
McLean also loved attending Texas Rangers baseball games, where one of his favorite pranks was to "photobomb" other fans -- sneaking into the background of their photographs with his wife, Katy.
He would also regularly drive down backroads with his daughter, Abigail.
"As soon as they would hit a dirt road, she would jump in the front seat and snuggle with him," said Dace Clifton, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hico.
'No intention of surrendering'
But Sgt. McLean was also credited for his fearlessness when he encountered the heavily-armed McCommas, a firearms dealer and former security guard. The 38-year-old deputy was the first to encounter McCommas at a disturbance call on Edgecliff Court in the Oak Trail Shores community north of Granbury.
"He was loaded for bear with guns and everything," Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said in a news conference before the funeral. "I think when he left home that morning in Joshua he intended on hurting and killing a lot of people and Lance prevented that."
Deeds believes McCommas went there to try and kill a girl he was accused of sexually assaulting last year in Joshua. That's where he encountered Sgt. McLean.
"Once Lance intervened ... he left the scene going toward home, which was going through the center of Granbury," Deeds said.
Davis, the Granbury police officer, spotted the van McCommas was driving and followed it into Granbury, where the van stopped near City Hall. Deeds, who had also been in pursuit, was among those who fired at the gunman.
"When he got out, he had no intention of surrendering to us," Deeds said. "He got out with guns a-blazing with a rifle and I knew it had to end right there. There were too many people around."
Deeds shot at McCommas and said he thinks his shots took him down.
"I believe it did," Deeds said. "I had the best shot of any of the officers that were there."
Praised as an officer
After being shot about 10:50 a.m. on Friday, McLean was transported by helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in very critical condition.
He remained on life support until he died at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
Deeds praised McLean praised him as a natural leader who many younger deputies admired in his role as a training officer.
"All he seemed to want to do was help people," Deeds said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram