University of North Alabama student remembers Sheffield Police Officer who saved her life

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SHEFFIELD, Ala. – A University of North Alabama student remembered the Sheffield Police Officer who was killed in a shooting on October 1 and how he saved her life.

“He was my literal superhero. Not many people have a superman, but I do,” Emma Gregory told News 19.

Sheffield Police Officer, Sgt. Nick Risner, saved the UNA sophomore’s life on December 30, 2019. Gregory knows the exact night she met Risner because the then high school senior was on the verge of ending her life.

“I was minutes away from jumping off of O’Neal Bridge,” Gregory said. “I was at the lowest point in my life.”

Gregory said says it was dark and late at night, cars didn’t see her as they drove past, until Risner. He got off work 15 minutes early that night, which Gregory says was a rarity. He was on his way home when he saw her and immediately recognized something was wrong.

“He came and just embraced me and told me everything was going to be okay. Walked me away from the edge. It really showed me what kind of person he was,” Gregory recalled. “He told me that night that God sent him to me and I fully believe that.”

That blessing continued far beyond that night on the O’Neal Bridge.

“He said call me anytime about anything. I care about you. I love you. I was sent to you for a reason. When no one else can be there for you I can be there for you and that was so true,” she said.

One of her favorite memories, a surprise appearance at her high school graduation, K-9 Wiske in tow.

“When he came, he hugged me and said ‘I told you that you could do it.’ He was always there for me and he really became like a father figure to me.” Gregory said.

Gregory said even now that hasn’t changed. Just hours after his death, she got a message on Facebook from a friend of Risner’s who told Gregory she was instructed months ago to reach out if something were to ever happen to him.

“I call her my guardian angel sent from Nick because he’s still taking care of me even in his death,” Gregory said.

She said she would call him when she had to drive over the O’Neal Bridge. It was a traumatic experience she struggles with even today.

“He was still working with me on that and getting me to the point where I could drive across it alone,” she said. “I was just starting to get a little better because he was helping me.”

Now, she says it’s her turn to follow through on a promise she made to him that night on the bridge.

“He of course asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be a doctor, and he said, ‘Well, you’re going to be a doctor.’ I have no other plans but to do that for him,” Gregory said.

Gregory also said she knows what Risner would think if this were any other officer killed in his place:

“Justice should be served, definitely,” Gregory said. “He also was a huge advocate for forgiveness and loving unconditionally and showing God’s love. I just want to encourage everyone to pray for this person.”

A public service for Risner will be held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Faith Church in Florence, located at 3601 Florence Boulevard on Friday, October 8.

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