September has been a truly horrible month for law enforcement with more line of duty deaths then I care to count. As I add these last five fallen officers to my sidebar, I can only hope that this is it for September at the very least and it would be really, really, really nice if that included the rest of the year, too. Please join me in offering thanks and condolences for these men and women who gave all to their communities.
Sergeant Michael C. Weigand, a part-time sergeant with Latimore Township Police Department and full-time patrolman with Eastern Adams Regional Police Department died in the Line of Duty on Sunday, September 14th during a Blue Knights benefit ride to raise money for Latimore Township Park.
The 2000 Kawasaki police motorcycle he was riding was hit by a Ford F-250 when it lost control and skidded across the road striking and killing Sergeant Weigand on the scene.
“He had an outstanding reputation in this town,” said Latimore Township Supervisor Daniel Worley. “He was an outstanding person, loved by everyone. It is a tremendous loss not only to his family, but to the people who worked with him.”
Sergeant Weigand, age 25, is survived by his wife Amanda, and three-year old daughter, Lanie.
Detective Tommy Keen of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department in Texas succumbed to injuries sustained on Saturday, September 13th while assisting with recovery efforts following Hurricane Ike. While on his way into work his way was blocked by a fallen tree so he returned to his home to change out of his uniform, get a chainsaw, and clear the roadway. "He had already notified the dispatcher that he was on duty," said Capt. John Martin, a sheriff's department spokesman. "He was just determined to get to work."
As Detective Keen cut the tree, a branch lying against a high-tension wire suddenly shot into the air and struck him in the head. He was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital where he died from his wounds on Monday, September the 15th.
How much more devoted can you be to your job?" said sheriff's Major Juan Jorge. "On a day when everybody wanted to be home with their family, he literally lost his life trying to get to work. He was just a prince of a guy," Jorge said. "Nobody could ever say anything bad about him."
Detective Keen, who was scheduled to retire at the end of October, was a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War and had served with the Harris County Sheriff's Department for 35 years. He is survived by his wife and adult son.
A U.S. Forest Service officer was fatally shot Saturday, September 20th, while making a traffic stop of a man who investigators suspect had also killed the owner of the pickup truck he was driving when later captured.
Officer Kristine Fairbanks, 51, a canine officer with the forest service radioed dispatch at 2:22 p.m. and said she had stopped an old Dodge van without license plates near the Dungeness Forks campground in Olympic National Park. When a dispatcher tried to contact Fairbanks with information on the driver, there was no response and troopers and a sheriff’s deputy were dispatched. The deputy arrived first, at 3:10 p.m., and found Fairbanks dead. Her police dog, Radar, was unharmed in her vehicle.
“She was a very positive, very dedicated employee,” said Cynthia Bork, Forest Service spokesperson. As of 2007, Fairbanks was the only Forest Service officer in the state with a K-9 partner, and one of only 40 in the United States "She was considered one of the best K-9 handlers, if not the best," Bork said.
A 15-year veteran of the Forest Service, Officer Fairbanks is survived by her husband, Brian, a Fish and Wildlife officer; her 15-year-old daughter, Whitney; and her father, John Willits of Port Angeles.
Caldwell County Sheriff's Deputy Adam William Klutz, 25, died from wounds received after he was shot in the head Friday, September 19th, while responding to a 911 hang-up call at a local home. Deputy Lt. Chris Martin, who arrived after Klutz, was shot three times in his bulletproof vest and suffered minor injuries.
Investigators believe that Deputy Klutz was gunned down as he exited his vehicle after arriving on-scene. The suspect then shot Deputy Martin before fleeing on horseback. The suspect’s body was found five days later on September 24th dead from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"We're very saddened by the death of Adam Klutz," Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones said. "We ask that the citizens of our community pray for Adam and his family during this difficult time."
Deputy Klutz had served with the agency for one and a half years. He had previously worked at the Caldwell Detention Center for approximately one year and had served three months with the Hickory Police Department. He is survived by his parents.
Highway Patrol Officer Patrick McDonald, 30, an eight-year police veteran and the second Philadelphia officer to be killed in the line of duty this month and the fourth this year was gunned down on Tuesday, September 23rd shortly after making a traffic stop on a vehicle whose passenger was a violent felon and wanted man. Upon asking for identification, the passenger fled the vehicle and was pursued a short ways on foot by Officer McDonald before the suspect turned on the officer and shot him several times. While Officer McDonald was on the ground, the suspect then stood over him and shot him several more times.
Another officer, Richard Bowes, was shot n the leg before the suspect was killed by other responding officers. Officer McDonald was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:08 p.m., 23 minutes after he had radioed for backup.
A popular officer with the traffic division, Officer McDonald was the son of a retired Philadelphia Fire Department captain. His girlfriend Joanne Heary - a police officer in the Northeast's 15th District – said of McDonald, "He's very dedicated to Highway Patrol. He came out and did his job. He loved the motorcycle, the 25th District . . . Everything he did, he gave it his all."