WJTV News Channel 12 - Memorial grows as community pays respects to fallen New Bern off

Memorial grows as community pays respects to fallen New Bern officer

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NEW BERN, N.C. - A memorial continues to grow outside New Bern police headquarters as people continue stopping by to pay their respects.

When Joaquin Alvarado was doing a ride along with the New Bern Police Department, he remembers meeting a police officer who almost immediately became his friend.

"He was telling me how he was in the Marine Corps, and I was like I was in the Marine Corps too,” said Joaquin Alvarado. “Right off the bat, we just hit it off right away, and I remember running into him not that long ago at Taco Loco, my favorite Mexican place which also happens to be his favorite place."

That buddy was Officer Alexander Thalmann.

Their meal together at their favorite Mexican restaurant was the last time Alvarado saw officer Thalmann.

"But then I was told Monday that he passed away, it's just hard to believe,” Alvarado said. “I can't believe [it]. I just talked to him the other day at Taco Loco. And it's just shocking how everything came down like this."

It’s shocking for a community who came out to police headquarters to leave flowers, balloons and teddy bears in memory of the fallen officer.

People who personally knew Thalmann and strangers like Arnis Udris are trying to understand the death of the 22-year-old.

"I'm 40 and I'm barely beginning to learn about life,” said Arnis Udris, mourner. “So I cannot imagine someone half my age going to work and not coming home and to me it's just nothing but a tragedy."

Others like retired Durham Police Officer and New Bern tourist Wayne Watson said he never gets used to a death of a fellow officer.

"It hurts us to lose him," Watson said. "And it's going to happen again, and you hope it don't."

City resident Kristen Jones said despite the shooting, she and others she spoke to feel safe.

"Officer Thalmann proved that," Jones said. "He proved that safety comes first, and he put his life on the line for us that night."

For Joaquin Alvarado, if he had one more chance to talk to his fellow Marine and his buddy. "Oh I already know,” said Alvarado. “I'd say, let's get some Taco Loco. That's what I'd tell him."
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