Last week was a heartbreaking and deadly week for the Blue Family in America. And this week isn’t starting off any better.
On Monday night, a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper was killed in the line of duty after a crash at Mile Marker 74 in Madison County.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security said he “was killed in a car crash while responding to a call.”
Police say he was responding to a car fire when he lost control of his vehicle and went into a sideways slide, causing him to hit a tractor trailer.
Gatti was pronounced dead on the scene.
During a press conference, his father, Chris Gatti, spoke about his 24-year-old son.
“I want him to be remembered as somebody who loved people. I want him to be remembered as somebody who loved his God. The last picture of my son was last night at church. That’s what I want him to be remembered as.”
Chris says his faith and the support of others are giving him strength.
“I find it from the lord. Without God I have nothing. I’ve been told all I have to offer is prayers. That’s all we need.”
Captain Jimmie Johnson says Gatti started the job less than a year ago.
“This is the first time I’ve had to go through this, and hopefully the last. I don’t even know. I’m kind of lost for words right now.”
In the meantime, a manhunt for the suspected killer of a Biloxi police officer ended Monday night in an arrest.
Police led 19-year-old Darian Tawan Atkinson through the same parking lot where he had allegedly opened fire on Officer Robert McKeithen the night before.
WLOX-TV streamed Atkinson’s walk on social media.
In it, he appeared to be smiling as he passed dozens of uniformed officers on his walk from a cruiser to the front doors of the police station.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said Atkinson was spotted by a Biloxi officer in Wiggins on his way home.
That officer called the Wiggins Police Department, which sent cops out to make the arrest.
“We feel vindicated. He’s been treated properly and fairly. And now we will grieve for the (officer’s) family,” Miller said. “They’ll know shortly he’s been arrested. Maybe that will give them some relief.”
Miller said although they don’t currently know what the motive was for the shooting, there will also be another charge for accessory to a crime – although he didn’t elaborate further.
He said right now, his goal is to make sure they have a “solid case.”
“We want the district attorney to be pleased with the case we present. We want this guy to pay for what he’s done,” he said.
Miller shared his gratitude for those working the case, many of whom didn’t rest for 40 hours, he said.
In regards to the expression on the suspect’s face as he was lead through the police station doors?
“I’m not bothered by his smile,” Miller said.
On Monday, police circulating video footage and photos of the then-unidentified suspected killer in hopes of pinning down his name.
Police held a morning press conference, with Miller describing McKeithen as an “unbelievably fine policeman” who had served on the force for nearly 24 years and was planning on retiring later this year.
“(McKeithen) was a fine and decent man, a great policeman and he served the citizens of Biloxi well,” Miller said.
Police say the suspect will be charged with capital murder of a police officer.
The shooting marks the fifth fallen officer for the Biloxi police department.
The other fallen officers include:
- Officer Emery Wilson, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1970
- Officer David Higginbotham, who died in1972
- Animal Control Officer Nathan Mitchell, who was hit by a train while trying to catch a dog in March 2001
- Michael Meaut.
The murder caps a deadly week for police in America.
On Wednesday, an off-duty New York City police officer was killed in a two-car crash in Lynbrook while heading into the department.
Lynbrook Police Lt. Charles McCartney said it happened at 6:48 a.m.
31-year-old Officer Vincent Persaud was driving westbound on Peninsula Boulevard when he was hit near the Hempstead Avenue intersection. The accident caused his car to spin out of control and slam into a tree.
He was rushed to Long Island Jewish Hospital in Valley Stream and pronounced dead shortly after 9 a.m.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce the loss of Police Officer Vincent Persaud, 31, of the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, who died tragically in a car accident on Wednesday. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time. pic.twitter.com/chm2ONUsw9
— James Sanders Jr. (@JSandersNYC) May 3, 2019
The driver of the other car wasn’t hurt.
Saddened to hear of the passing of Police Officer Vincent Persaud , 101st Precinct, who died from an off duty vehicle collision this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fellow officers. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/oKPionluX2
— NYPD Queens South (@NYPDQueensSouth) May 1, 2019
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Nassau County Police Chief Patrick Ryder held a news conference about the incident Wednesday morning and offered condolences to Persaud’s family.
“Words cannot express how sad we are today. With heavy hearts, we mourn the passing of Police Officer Vincent Persaud. He was a good cop, who was dedicated to serving NYC. Our heartfelt condolences, prayers & full support are with his family.
Rest In Peace Brother.”
Words cannot express how sad we are today. With heavy hearts, we mourn the passing of Police Officer Vincent Persaud. He was a good cop, who was dedicated to serving NYC. Our heartfelt condolences, prayers & full support are with his family.
Rest In Peace Brother. pic.twitter.com/T64zN6rezg
— NYPD 101st Precinct (@NYPD101Pct) May 1, 2019
His family has since created a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs.
Our hearts are heavy with passing of our brother P.O. Vincent Persaud this morning in an off-duty vehicle collision. Please keep his family, friends and @NYPD101Pct brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/qtrAYQqeXg
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 1, 2019
On Thursday, a police officer in Alabama was murdered.
Charged with killing him? His wife.
It happened in a domestic incident on Thursday night in Gardendale, Alabama – north of Birmingham.
Police say they arrived at the scene and found a man “suffering from a gunshot wound”. He was rushed to the emergency room and pronounced dead on Friday morning.
He’s identified as 42-year-old Officer Andrew Kimbrel, who served as a patrol officer, school resource officer and evidence technician for the Vestavia Hills Police Department.
“During the initial investigation we discovered the victim was a police officer with the Vestavia Hills Police Department,” police said. “We can tell you the incident was domestic in nature.”
The department put out a statement expressing their grief.
“Andy was loved by his fellow officers and the community in which he chose to protect. The Vestavia Police Department extends our gratitude to the community for their outpouring of support during this difficult time,” the statement read.
Gardendale police posted a followup Facebook post that a warrant was secured for the arrest of his wife.
Stephanie Nicole Keller, 43, was arrested and charged with murder.
She’s being held on a $100,000 bond. The officer is survived by two children.
Kimbrel’s death marks the second murder of a police officer in three days.
On Saturday night, K9 Officer Jordan Harris Sheldon of the Mooresville Police Department was killed.
It happened just after 10 p.m. in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Police made the announcement on Facebook early Sunday morning.
Police say he was shot during a routine traffic stop on West Plaza Drive. He was rushed to the hospital, but later did from his injuries. Sheldon had been on the department for six years.
They say the suspect took off but was later found in a nearby apartment. Police entered the home and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot would.
The investigation is ongoing between local and state departments. Police say they’ll be releasing more details soon.
Officer Jordan Harris Sheldon
Officer Jordan Harris Sheldon: End of Watch – May 4, 2019
Our team at Law Enforcement Today takes the passing of each and every single police officer to heart. We pray for them and for their families. This prayer was sent to us last year, and we believe it’s important to share it in memory of the fallen and all those who serve and protect.
A Police Officer’s Prayer: (Author Unknown)
Oh Almighty God,
Whose Great Power and Eternal Wisdom Embraces the Universe,
Watch Over All Policemen and Law Enforcement Officers.
Protect Them from Harm in the Performance of Their Duty to Stop Crime, Robberies, Riots, and Violence.
Help Them Keep Our Streets and Homes Safe Day and Night.
We Recommend Them to Your Loving Care Because Their Duty is Dangerous.
Grant Them Your Unending Strength and Courage in Their Daily Assignments.
Protect These Brave Men and Women,
Grant Them Your Almighty Protection,
Unite Them Safely with Their Families After Duty Has Ended.
Law Enforcement Today is proud to support Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) as our “charity of choice” for supporting the survivors of fallen officers. We hope you’ll consider doing the same.
Here’s what they are all about:
Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss. C.O.P.S. provides resources to help them rebuild their shattered lives. There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.
C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members. Today, C.O.P.S. membership is over 48,000 survivors. Survivors include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and co-workers of officers who have died in the line of duty according to Federal government criteria. C.O.P.S. is governed by a national board of law enforcement survivors. All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri. C.O.P.S. has over 50 Chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.
C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors’ Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, “C.O.P.S. Kids” counseling reimbursement program, the “C.O.P.S. Kids” Summer Camp, “C.O.P.S. Teens” Outward Bound Adventure for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, extended family, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.
Concerns of Police Survivors. (Photo courtesy Cathy and Javier Bustos)
C.O.P.S. knows that a survivor’s level of distress is directly affected by the agency’s response to the tragedy. C.O.P.S., therefore, offers training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide on how to respond to the tragic loss of a member of the law enforcement profession. C.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. C.O.P.S. programs and services are funded by grants and donations.