June Parsons, 73, of Stillwater said the incident brought back bad memories of anti-military sentiment during the Vietnam War. Her husband was killed fighting in Vietnam, she said.
"If I was there I would have wanted to do the same thing and probably gotten the snot knocked out of me,” Parsons said. "I'm proud of that young man for standing up.”
Mike Chase, a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County sheriff's office, was among about 150 people who showed up Friday to demonstrate against the church group. Chase, who lost his son, Lance Michael Chase, in January 2006 in Iraq, said he could relate to both the emotions expressed by Modisette and the reaction of police.
"They (Westboro members) were exercising their rights that my son and thousands of others gave their lives for,” Chase said. "I don't blame (Modisette) — it was definitely hard for me to take, too.”
If police hadn't stepped in, the situation could have erupted and people could have been hurt, Chase said.
Police interference may have even spared Modisette a potential lawsuit from the Westboro group, if the situation had turned physical, he said.
Chase said that after the publicity generated by Modisette's arrest, he fielded more than a dozen calls from people wanting to contribute money.
Modisette, an aviation mechanic student at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee, said support has been overwhelming, but the Marine reservist declined offers of financial assistance.
"The way I was raised was the reason I couldn't drive by and watch that go on,” he said. "There's liberty, and then there's ridiculous.”
"If I was there I would have wanted to do the same thing and probably gotten the snot knocked out of me. I'm proud of that young man for standing up.”
June Parsons, 73, of Stillwater