PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - It was a single hug felt by many. In the middle of a chaotic murder scene in Pass Christian, a tussle with a distraught family member could have gone terribly wrong. But an officer's hug was just the right medicine at the right time.
The scene was a nightmare.
"Mass chaos," said Sgt. Edward Walley. "People running in every direction. People laying on the ground. People trying to assist the people laying on the ground."
Two people were dead and four wounded in a shootout after the Pass Christian Mardi Gras parade Sunday. Sgt. Walley was in the middle of it all.
A distraught woman came onto the scene. Officers didn't know she was the fiancee of one of the victims, Isaiah Major III.
When nothing else worked, Walley stepped in. He used a hug instead of handcuffs to calm to situation. It created a huge reaction on social media. And it was a hug that Deesther Simpson will never forget.
"It kind of got heated with another officer. I was just trying to explain to him," she said. "I was like, 'I was right there. I was right there. I just got out of the car. I was right there.' And when the other officer just came and put his arms around me, made me feel so good. He made me feel so good."
Walley said his reaction was what anyone would have done.
"You just try to comfort people," he said. "Most people that are victims of stuff like that just want to talk. They just want somebody to hear their story and let them talk. And show that compassion and care that people want."
He tries to deflect the reaction.
"She wasn't a threat to anything that was going on or anybody. She was just hurt. And when you deal with somebody like that, it touches you, too."
Police Chief Tim Hendricks also came to comfort.
"She was very distraught," he said. "And he did the same thing that most humans would do is console somebody."
Deesther's mother, Veronica Simpson, said the gesture goes beyond just one person's comfort.
"It was such a rare and sincere act to see a police officer step up and show his humanity for the general public," she said. "To me, that sent such a strong message that good always outweigh the bad."
Added Deesther: "I just want to thank him so much for making me feel safe."