Tragedy: 2016 First Line of Duty Deaths


Via the New York Times:

Police officers were shot to death on Sunday in Ohio and Utah, the first killings of law enforcement officers in the line of duty this year.

Officer Thomas Cottrell, a policeman in Danville, Ohio, and Officer Doug Barney, an 18-year veteran of law enforcement in the Salt Lake City area, were the first on-duty fatalities, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a non-profit that tracks police deaths.

Officer Cottrell was found dead late Sunday, about 20 minutes after a woman told a police dispatcher that her ex-boyfriend was armed and looking to kill a police officer, the authorities said. When Officer Cottrell’s body was found, both his service weapon and police car were missing, officials said.

The ex-boyfriend, Herschel Ray Jones, 32, was taken into custody early Monday, Sheriff David Shaffer of Knox County said in a statement, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Jones is being held in the jail in nearby Morrow County. The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting local officials in their investigation, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

Officer Tom Cottrell (Photo: Danville Police Department)
Officer Tom Cottrell (Photo: Danville Police Department)

According to Knox County court records, Mr. Jones has a criminal history that dates back to 2001 and includes charges of burglary, breaking and entering and carrying a concealed weapon. In 2011, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on a burglary charge before later entering a guilty plea.

Both Officer Cottrell and Mr. Jones were well known in Danville, a community of about 1,000 people, where Danville High School football games are a major social activity. Desirae Eckert, who lives in neighboring Fredericktown, said in an interview over Facebook that Officer Cottrell attended most home games and would talk with fans.

A page set up to support Officer Cottrell’s wife, Tanya, on the fund-raising website GoFundMe said Officer Cottrell would sometimes stop at the local baseball and football fields to “throw a few passes” with the boys there.

“The kids loved him because he always played football with the kids at the games,” Ms. Eckert, 24, said.

Officer Douglas Barney (Photo: Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake)
Officer Douglas Barney (Photo: Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake)

She said she would sometimes see Mr. Jones at the football games, too, though his was an unsettling presence. He would sometimes focus his attention on the officers patrolling the game, she said, adding, “He would just walk by and just glare and then smile.”

In Utah, hours before the fatal shooting in Danville, Officer Barney was shot and killed by “a violent fugitive who had fled the scene of a traffic accident” in the town of Holladay, the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said in a Facebook posting.

Officer Barney, 44, was shot as he pursued a suspect, the police said. Another officer, Jon Richey, 51, was struck in the legs by a bullet, the police said in a statement. He was in serious condition at a hospital, the police statement said.

The suspect, Cory Lee Henderson, 31, was shot and killed as he exchanged gunfire with the officers, the police said. On Monday, the police were still searching for a woman believed to have been involved in the traffic accident.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 129 officers were killed in 2015, with 41 deaths caused by gunfire, two of them accidental. The first death from gunfire last year was on March 4, when Detective Terence Avery Green was ambushed and killed in Fulton County, Ga.


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