GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With flashing blue and red lights from the police escort outside, it was standing room only inside of the Chandeleur Brewing Company as Gulfport Police Officer Luis Garcia walked through the doors.
Bartenders couldn't move fast enough to fill orders coming in. The proceeds from each craft beer ordered was going back to Garcia and his family.
Local restaurants also chipped in to sponsor the evening.
Jorge Flores, owner of El Saltillo Mexican restaurant, presented Garcia with five checks each worth $500 for his recovery effort. He said it was the least he could do for his best customer.
"We want to see him very well and get back to work, and be the same person he used to be," said Flores.
Garcia seemed to be overcome with emotion as he hugged everybody in the building.
"A lot of these people are good friends of mine, but the majority of them I've never met before," said Garcia. "It's amazing to see the people come together, for pretty much a stranger. And for them to come in here and support me and my family, what we're going through right now, it's awesome."
So many new friends meeting the man hailed as a hero, while those who already knew him well were thrilled to see their old friend lighting up the room with his smile again.
"I fully expected him to come in here with a walker, he's doing exceptionally well," said Larry Marrell, who has known Garcia for 10 years.
Garcia wore a brace around his chest as he moved about, but his smile never disappeared.
"To see how fast he's recuperating already from what he's been through, from what happened to him has been amazing that he made it that quickly," added Marrell.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least, but today's been a great day," said Garcia.
And as he progresses in his recovery, Officer Garcia only wishes for more great days spent with the people he set out to serve.