GAULEY BRIDGE, WV (WOWK) – The City of Charleston will pay its final respects to Charleston Police Patrolman Cassie Johnson on Tuesday. She was shot in the line of duty on December 1 and died two days later. Tributes are coming in from across the country from strangers and friends.

“Even at the academy you pushed everyone to be their best and you were there for us all,” Gauley Bridge Police Chief Eric Oden wrote about Patrolman Cassie Johnson on the Officer Down Memorial Page the day she passed away.

They attended the 16-week-long West Virginia State Police Academy together in early 2019.

“Always pushing to do her best, she always wanted to do the best she could do and be the best she could be,” Oden said.

Early on — he learned she’d been a humane officer.

“She loved animals. She don’t like anybody to be mean to animals or anything like that,” he said.

Chief Oden said that the bond formed with other basic officers at the State Police Academy is unexplainable. He says he had that bond with Cassie Johnson. He said she was driven and would motivate other officers to do their best.”

Oden said he hated running, but Johnson pushed him to keep going.

“She’s one of the people up there that helped keep me in the academy because I wanted to leave. I really wanted to leave, I even had a buddy, he wanted to leave. We were struggling,” he said.

Johnson helped them get through it with a push and — as Oden describes it – a contagious smile and laugh.

After graduation, he says he could depend on Johnson when he needed help with a situation.

Oden and some other officers from the area were getting their haircuts last Tuesday when they heard the news a Charleston police officer had been shot.

“Then I found out it was her and I literally lost it. I don’t know how to explain it I just had this bubble gut feeling like is this real,” he said.

He really thought she would pull through — “his sister in blue” — he says — and honored her by typing out his thoughts.

“You will never be forgotten for your beautiful soul will be remembered and talked about for years to come. You made your mark in this career and you touched so many lives in such a short period of time,” he read aloud.

Chief Oden says he believes Johnson could have been K-9 officer or police chief one day, and said his department is there for the Charleston Police Department and Patrolman Cassie Johnson’s family if they need anything.