WESTON, Mo., Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A small Missouri town turned out to keep Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church from protesting a soldier's funeral.
The funeral of Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell, who died Oct. 24 from wounds in Afghanistan, was held Saturday in Weston, Mo.
"I'd say probably half the people in Weston are here," Marine veteran Eric Moser told WDAF-TV, Kansas City, Mo.
Sadell was in the Arif Kala region of Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed Oct. 5. He was 34 and leaves a wife and two sons.
"We got everybody here early so we could take up all the parking spots," said Rebecca Rooney, who organized the supporters. "We did that so Mr. Phelps wouldn't have a contingency that was really close."
The Westboro protesters didn't stay long once they saw the supporters.
"I'm glad they left, but I'm sad they came," Rooney said.
Half of the group lined up at the intersection while the others formed a human shield around the funeral home.
The Phelps group, from Topeka, Kan., protests soldiers' funerals around the country, saying their deaths are God's judgment on America for "condoning homosexuality."