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Community run held to honor Lt. Boutte

For many in the Picayune community, Lieutenant Michael Boutte was known for his professionalism and his infectious smile while serving with the Picayune Police Department and most recently the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, while for his family Boutte was someone they could always count on.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy was shot while responding to an incident Monday afternoon, and later died from his injuries.

Runners gathered on Goodyear Boulevard Wednesday night for a one mile run to remember Boutte and show support for his family.

Boutte’s 20-year-old nephew Michael Newton was one of Wednesday’s runners. He wore a Picayune Police Department shirt to honor his uncle.

“My uncle is the greatest influence to me. He always tells me to get better every day,” said Netwon.

Newton will go to Air Force basic training next month, a decision influenced by his uncle’s service in the Air Force.

For Boutte’s family he was “the glue.” His loss has felt like a bad dream, said his brother Marc Andrews in an interview Thursday morning.

Andrews was at work when he got the call his brother was in the hospital. When he arrived, Boutte had already passed away.

“It just felt like a dream. It just felt like, okay that’s not him lying on that table, it’s somebody else,” said Andrews.

Boutte’s home was a place where extended family could gather together and stay up and talk, said Andrews.

“No matter what, you could pick up that phone, call my brother and he’ll be at that house quick,” said Andrews.

Boutte had a wife, two adult children, two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

“My brother meant everything, the world to me. He’s the head of our household,” said his sister Anita Camp.

Their mom passed away in 2012, and since then Boutte has been the glue who held the family together, said Camp.

“I think Michael gets a lot of his personality and the way he helps people and goes beyond because of my mom. It’s almost, you look at her and he’s a reflection,” said Camp.

Boutte’s sister Anitra Buckley said she had no words to describe the loss of her brother. She was surprised to learn after his death just how much he did for other people.

“I didn’t know he did so much,” she said.

Boutte’s sisters were young when he joined the Air Force. When they were 16, their family relocated from New Orleans to South Dakota, where Boutte was already stationed. He helped teach them to stay out of trouble and keep a clear mind, said Camp.

Camp’s 18-year-old son also looked up to his uncle, and is now an MP in the Army.

“He tells me, ‘Mom I’m walking around like Uncle Michael’…It always refers right back to him, how much he has inspired our family to reach those goals and do better,” said Camp.

Something many remember about Boutte was his infectious smile.

“If you were in a bad mood, Michael’s going to talk you out of it,” said Camp. “By the time you finished talking to Michael you’re not in a bad mood anymore.”

Among the members of the Picayune community who came to show their support Wednesday night included staff from the Picayune Police Department and the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department. Volunteer firefighter Angela England came to run in her turnout gear.

Chief of Police for the Picayune School District Chris Wagner worked with Boutte when they were both at the Picayune Police Department.

“He actually saved my life one time,” said Wagner.

Wagner described a time when he was wrestling with a bigger guy during a call, and was growing tired, then Boutte showed up to help.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department deputy Tonia Lucas came to show support for Boutte’s family.

The Wednesday evening run was organized by the Picayune Pacers running group.

“Officer Boutte has always been a wonderful person, always smiling, always laughing, always giving, never judging and he never asked for anything in return,” said Shannon Kerry with the Picayune Pacers.

“We should honor that. We need more people like that. We need more officers like that.”

The run was inspired by Zechariah Cartledge, a child who runs one mile for every U.S. first responder who dies in the line of duty. Cartledge ran a mile to honor Boutte on Wednesday afternoon, and encouraged local communities to hold similar runs.

“We’re happy to see the community standing behind us,” said Capt. Rhonda Johnson with the Picayune Police Department. “We feel love and support from the community. It keeps us going,”

Camp wishes her brother was able see how much people loved him.

“I just wish he was here to see how everybody was celebrating him.”