Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement

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Kentucky – Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Lieutenant Clifton Scott “Scotty” McGaha tragically passed away on Saturday. According to officials within his department, he was just one day away from retirement. 

Reports about McGaha conclude that he was one of the greatest dedicated public servants the Louisville area has ever known. 

In addition to serving in the military as a U.S. Marine Corps. veteran, 69-year-old McGaha also dedicated about 40 years to working in local law enforcement. 

Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement
BCSO Lt. McGaha

 

WAVE reported that Lt. McGaha passed away from natural causes on Saturday. He planned to retire from BCSO just one day later. 

Officials say that even though he planned to retire from his position as a lieutenant, he had no plans to completely step away from the world of law enforcement altogether. 

Bullitt County Sheriff Walt Sholar said that as he stepped out of the role with Bullitt County, he had plans to be sworn in as an officer with the Audubon Park Police Department on Tuesday. 

The incredible law enforcement official was remembered fondly on social media.

“Scotty was a wonderful friend for over 38 years and a dedicated public servant for much longer than that,” the BCSO said in a Facebook post on Saturday afternoon. “Scotty McGaha truly embodied the Skills of a Warrior with the Heart of a Servant. He lived his Marine Corps motto ‘Semper Fidelis’ every day and gave selflessly to our County and our Commonwealth over and over again!”

According to reports, McGaha’s wife of nearly 50 years passed away just a few months ago. 

“To know him was to love him and not only that, Scotty loved everybody,” the sheriff said. “People didn’t have to ask Scotty to help, he was just always there…You just turn around and he’s there to help with anything, everything.”

Audubon Park Police were saddened to hear the tragic news, as they were excited to bring McGaha aboard this week. 

McGaha reportedly leaves behind three children and three grandchildren, and additionally is survived by his mother and siblings, according to his obituary. 

BCSO asked for prayers for the fallen lieutenant. 

“Please join with us in prayer for GOD’s peace, comfort and strength to be endowed upon Scotty’s family and friends as we go through these days of grief,” the BCSO’s post read. “Let us remember always the wonderful legacy of service and help he provided to so many throughout our community for so long.”

Sadly, we must inform the people of our County that Lieutenant Scotty McGaha passed away early this morning(1/18/2020)….

Posted by Bullitt County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, January 18, 2020

 

A service to lay McGaha to rest is planned for Thursday. 

Rest easy, hero.

This has been a difficult week for the blue family, as we learned of the loss of multiple officers throughout the country. 

An off-duty Illinois police officer was killed in a car accident on Sunday, according to a report from Fox 32.

Police say that they have arrested the driver of the vehicle and charged them with driving under the influence.

According to reports, 33-year-old Officer Charles Schauer was riding shotgun in a Dodge SUV on an Illinois highway before the crash. He was reportedly accompanied by Erin Zilka, 35, who was behind the wheel of the SUV.

Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement
Officer Charles Schauer

 

Zilka is also a police officer, reportedly serving in nearby Joliet, while Schauer worked in Berwyn.

While they were traveling, Zilka reportedly lost control of the vehicle and crashed the Dodge Durango into a box truck that was parked blocking two lanes of traffic. The truck was reportedly stopped due to an earlier collision with a pickup truck.

The crash caused severe trauma to Schauer.

 

When emergency crews arrived to try and provide life-saving aid, Schauer was pronounced dead at the scene.

Zilka was reportedly rushed to a nearby hospital with non life-threatening injuries. She was later arrested and charged with DUI, said police.

Zilka’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, said that her BAC test showed that she was under the legal limit, but he did not specify the exact number.

 

He also noted that Zilka was in “a really bad way” following the crash, as she and Schauer were reportedly good friends.

Three lanes of the highway were closed down following the incident while authorities investigated the details of crash. The station has said that state police are still investigating.

Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement
Erin Zilka / Illinois State Police

 

Officer Schauer was remembered fondly on social media.

“The City of Berwyn Police Department is grieving the loss of a well-respected Police Officer, Charles Schauer, a ten-year veteran,” Schauer’s department wrote in a Facebook post.

“Please keep Officer Schauer’s family and friends, as well as all Berwyn police officers in your thoughts and prayers during this time of grief,” he said

It is with great sadness that I share that we lost a member of the Berwyn Police Department. Officer Chuck Schauer was a…

Posted by Mayor Robert J. Lovero on Sunday, January 19, 2020

 

Meanwhile, a Roselle Park police officer tragically took his own life on Sunday after he was involved in a vehicle wreck, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

New Jersey 101.5 reported that the 39-year-old officer, who was identified as Edward Nortrup, fatally shot himself in the head while emergency crews rushed to try and pull him from the wreckage. 

According to those reports, the officer appeared to have lost control of his vehicle on Broad Street in Matawan just after 12 p.m. Sunday. The officer’s vehicle reportedly struck two cars, then rolled the vehicle partially over as he came to a stop. 

Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement

 

Monmouth County prosecutor’s office spokesman Chris Swendeman said that as emergency crews left the side of the Nortrup’s vehicle in order to get equipment to spring him from the wreckage, that’s when they heard a gunshot. 

“As first responders left the vehicle to get equipment to help with the extraction, the driver located a firearm and fatally shot himself,” Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Spokesman Chris Swendeman said.

Swendeman did not confirm whether or not the officer used his service weapon to take his own life. 

No other details about the circumstances of the crash have been released as of this time. 

In an email to NJ 101.5, Roselle Park Chief of Police Daniel J. McCaffery said, “We are grieving as a department for the loss of our officer.”

New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association president Parick Colligan said that learning of an officer’s suicide is one of the worst calls to get, knowing that it could have possibly been prevented. 

“I always feel like this is preventable. It’s not like a line-of-duty of death,” Colligan said. “There’s always danger out there but these are the deaths that are hard because somehow we missed this guy and didn’t get him help.”

According to NJ.com, the officer was a 13-year veteran of the department. Nortrup served as a detective and was additionally a member of the Union County Emergency Response Team. 

It is with tremendous sadness that Police Chief Daniel J. McCaffery announces the passing of Roselle Park Police Officer…

Posted by Roselle Park Police on Monday, January 20, 2020

 

According to reports, New Jersey has now lost 37 officers to suicide since 2016. 

Officers in New Jersey are now mandated to complete a new training called the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement by 2021. 

“This is training that is necessary with the epidemic of law enforcement suicides nationwide,” McCaffery said. “We welcome any training that allows out officers to cope with the stresses of our jobs as best that we can.”

Early Sunday afternoon, we shared with you the developing story out of Honolulu, Hawaii, where multiple officers were shot.  We’ve received confirmation that two officers were in fact killed.

The two officers who were killed today have been identified as Tiffany-Victoria Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama, each of whom had less than 10 years each on the force, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a news conference.

Chief Ballard, choking back tears, offered condolences to their families.

“The HPD ohana (Hawaiian term meaning family) grieves along with you and shares your loss,” she said. “On behalf of the men and women of the Honolulu Police Department, we extend our deepest condolences,” she said. “I knew each one of them very personally.”

The officers were shot by Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel, 69, outside the Hibiscus Drive address after responding to a woman’s call for help.

As of the time of this report, she also said that Hanel and two females are “unaccounted for” after the massive fire that destroyed seven homes and damaged at least five. Hanel is presumed dead inside the home.

The two females were known to be residents of the Hibiscus Drive home where today’s ordeal began.

While Ballard acknowledged that it’s likely the suspected died in the fire, there is still an active search for him.

Two officers ambushed, murdered responding to call to help woman. One is a young mother of three.
Two officers ambushed, murdered responding to call to help woman. One is a young mother of three.

 

Enriquez, a 7-year HPD veteran, was the mother of three children. Kalama is a 9-year HPD veteran.

The woman who made the initial call, Lois Cain, was taken to the hospital with stab wounds to her leg, Ballard said.

She said that Hanel did not have any gun permits.

According to court documents, Hanel has a history of erratic behavior and making false 911 reports.  His attorney spoke to media outlets and said he had delusions that he was being tracked by the FBI.

According to neighbors, Cain, 77, was the landlord of the property and was trying to evict Hanel, when he attacked her.   Apparently she had delivered eviction papers to him on Friday, but we’re told he refused to sign them.

A passer-by saw Cain covered in blood and called 911.

As officers arrived, Hanel opened fire on them in the driveway.

Witnesses told local media outlets that they saw the injured officers being dragged out into the street, and that rescuers were seen performing CPR on an officer right after the shooting.

They told reporters that they believed at least one other person on the property was stabbed, although authorities did not immediately have information on the two stabbing victims.

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Colorado woman uses red flag law against officer who shot and killed her knife-wielding son

 

After ambushing the officers, the suspect set fire to the home he was in.  That fire spread quickly to several nearby properties while firefighters tried to battle the flames during the active police investigation.

Desperate homeowners were seen using garden hoses to try to put out the flames nearing their homes.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the entire state was mourning the death of two Honolulu officers killed in the line of duty on Sunday.

“As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy,” he tweeted earlier.

 

City Council Member Kymberly Marcos Pine offered prayers for the families of “the Honolulu Police Department officers who were killed and all who were injured during the Diamond Head incident today” via Facebook. post on Facebook.

 

“It is terribly upsetting to see the recent increase in crime, and we grieve with HPD and other first responders who put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” she wrote.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also offered his condolences for the families and friends of the two officers who were shot.

We’re told the American Red Cross is helping the affected families.  They set up an emergency shelter for the victims at Waikiki Elementary, which was housing nine people as of Sunday night.

Also on Sunday, we reported on the death of another one of our brothers.

“If I were to go into the fires of hell, I would follow him because I know he would bring me back.”

 

Sandy, Utah’s Police Chief William “Bill” O’Neal, 48-years-old, died last week after suffering what’s being called an “unfortunate medical event.”  O’Neal “subsequently died of natural causes.” 

A department spokesman said no further details would be released until the medical examiner’s report is received.

O’Neal had been with the Department since 1996 and served as Chief since July 2018.

Cop, veteran who served for 40 years dies one day before retirement
Sandy Police Chief William “Bill” O’Neal

 

You may remember him from his involvement in the 2003 rescuing of then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart of Salt Lake City, who had been kidnapped from her bedroom while her sister pretended to sleep.  As a reminder, Elizabeth was taken by Wanda Barzee and Brian David Mitchell, who were said to be married.  Apparently, the couple was polygamist because Mitchell “performed a ceremony” to marry Elizabeth as well, and raped her daily for the remainder of her capture. 

Elizabeth was starved, tethered to a tree, force fed her drugs and alcohol, and pushed his “religion” on her, calling himself a prophet named Immanuel. 

After the incident, O’Neal told reporters, “Being able to rescue her was a monumental thing in our careers.  When she was talking, I could see her teeth and from the fliers and the smile, I recognized her teeth. I know that sounds strange and that’s when it hit me. Wow, this is Elizabeth Smart.”

Elizabeth is now a motivational speaker, among other things, and released the following statement upon notification of O’Neal’s death: 

“I am profoundly grateful for the courage and bravery of the law enforcement officers, especially Chief Bill O’Neal, who responded to the call and helped rescue me almost 17 years ago.  Chief O’Neal was a leader who provided tremendous service to our community for nearly 25 years. I express my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Sandy Police Sergeant Jason Nielsen said of O’Neal, “The first moment I met him he was always just friendly, outgoing, very loud and vociferous. Just a great character. He was kind of larger-than-life, actually. An icon of the city, I would say. Especially with the police department.

“It’s crazy how much of an impact and an influence he had on each individual officer and citizen that he encountered.”

Nielsen continued, “When I first found out the news, I was in disbelief … he was young, it was completely unexpected and tragic. It’s a tremendous loss we’re going to feel for a long time.  He was strong. He was a big guy.”

Even Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn shared kind recollections of the Chief.  He said, “From working as a lifeguard at Alta Canyon Recreation Center in high school to serving and leading almost every department at Sandy Police, his impact on the community cannot be measured. 

 

“Bill O’Neal embodied what it means to protect and serve. Sandy residents have enjoyed a safe community over the years due in large part to his efforts and his influence.”

On O’Neal’s Facebook page, Mayor Bradburn wrote, “It was an absolute honor to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with this man through many ups and downs the past few years. I will miss him greatly. Till we meet again Chief … rest easy and thank you.”

Among many other accolades and awards, Chief O’Neal received the Sandy Police Medal of Valor.

Flags flew at half-staff outside City Hall following O’Neal’s death, and American flags lined the police department parking lot.

Sgt Nielsen said the officers of the Sandy Police Department were pressing on despite their sadness.  

“We’ve got a job to do,” he said, “and we can’t just quit, we can’t just take the day off. We have to keep doing our jobs. And that’s exactly what we’re doing today and we’re pushing forward and doing exactly what he’d want us to do.”

Nielsen added, “If I were to go into the fires of hell, I would follow him because I know he would bring me back.  You don’t see cops cry a lot, but there were a lot of tears today.”

 


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