Madison County Honors Its Local Fallen Officers

 

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Fraternal Order of Police in Madison County held a ceremony Wednesday evening to honor the 22 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty here.

The ceremony was held in front of the Fallen Officers Memorial located on the south side of the Madison County Courthouse.

“We would never attempt to pay the price owed to these men whose names are forever etched on this stone monument,” said Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning, as he addressed the crowd.

The 22 names on the memorial represent those who sacrificed their lives to protect and serve, but it was the 22 stories behind those men that brought more than 100 people to the ceremony.

William T. McMinn is one of those men and his great grandson, Jason McMinn, an Investigator with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, sees the tribute on a daily basis.

“It makes you well up a little bit inside when you come past it,” said McMinn, “but it also is an honor to know that he’s recognized.”

For the McMinns, law enforcement is the family business. Jason’s great grandfather made the ultimate sacrifice while trying to serve a warrant in 1939.

“My grandfather was actually there when great grandpa got shot in the back,” said McMinn.

The evening’s event also served as a night for fellowship recognizing those that still serve.

“When you have a large gathering like this it really binds everyone together and makes it feel good,” said McMinn. “It makes you know that you are appreciated and some days you get that and some days you don’t.”

Three officers were killed this past year in Alabama, but no new names were entered on the Madison County memorial.

“I’m thankful that we haven’t had anybody added in a while,” said McMinn, “but that’s a daily risk you take and every time you walk out that door it’s in our mind.”

For more on the men featured on the memorial, here are the names of the Fallen Officers:

Officer Eric Freeman

Age: 36

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Dec. 14, 2007

Suspect: Sentenced to life in prison

Freeman was shot and killed when he and his partner responded to an automobile wreck on Bailey Cove Road. As they approached the subject and attempted to arrest him for DUI, the man pulled out a gun and shot Freeman in the face.

Officer Daniel Golden

Age: 27

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Aug. 29, 2005

Suspect: Sentenced to death

Golden was shot and killed when he responded to a domestic disturbance call at a restaurant on Jordan Lane.

Deputy Sheriff Haskel Gene McLane

Age: 53

Tour: 9 years

Cause: Vehicle pursuit

Incident date: May 31, 2001

McLane was killed in an automobile wreck while attempting to locate an armed, drunk man who was threatening to harm another person.

Trooper Willis V. Moore

Age: 33

Tour: 1 year

Cause: Traffic accident

Incident date: Feb. 26, 1996

Moore was killed in a car crash on U.S. 231 North when he was forced into a guard rail by several cars that refused to grant him the right of way.

Deputy Sheriff Thomas Lewis

Age: 57

Tour: 8 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Nov. 1, 1994

Suspect: Shot and killed

Lewis was shot and killed while he and two other deputies were attempting to serve commitment papers to a mentally ill suspect. When officers knocked on the door and identified themselves, the suspect opened fire on them, killing Lewis.

Deputy Billy Thrower

Age: 41

Tour: 16 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Nov. 1, 1994

Suspect: Shot and killed

Thrower died from injuries in the same gun battle with Lewis. Although fatally wounded, Thrower was able to return fire and kill the suspect.

Officer Billy Clardy Jr.

Age: 26

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Car crash

Incident date: May 3, 1979

Clardy was killed in a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 72 at the intersection of Old Gurley Road while en route to meet another officer.

Sheriff’s Investigator Kenneth J. McDonald

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Gunfire (accidental)

Incident date: May 26, 1975

McDonald was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow officer after responding to a shots fired call. When McDonald and other deputies arrived, they discovered an elderly man shooting at a utility worker. A running gun battle ensued, and McDonald was mortally wounded.

Officer William T. Gaskin

Age: 22

Tour: 3 months

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Aug. 27, 1968

Suspect: Murdered in prison

Gaskin was shot and killed while making a traffic stop. He had radioed to dispatch that he was making the stop and was found by other officers suffering from a gunshot wound. He was still holding the suspect’s driver’s license when he was found.

Officer Preston Butler

Age: 27

Tour: 5 years

Cause: Motorcycle accident

Incident date: May 11, 1966

Butler succumbed to injuries sustained three weeks earlier when he was involved in a motorcycle accident while en route to another accident call.

Officer Charles E. Drake Jr.

Age: 27

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Motorcycle accident

Incident date: July 23, 1962

Drake was killed in a motorcycle accident while responding to another accident on U.S. 72.

New Hope Officer Emmett C. Bright

Age: 54

Tour: 15 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Nov. 6, 1967

Suspect: Charged with second degree murder

Bright was killed when he and another officer were attempting to arrest Charles Maples for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. While officers were putting the man in the patrol car, two other men demanded the release of Maples and shot Bright to death.

Officer Alan Logel Jr.

Age: 40

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Heart attack

Incident date: Nov. 19, 1956

Logel suffered a fatal heart attack while arresting a woman who was destroying another man’s car.

Officer Euell B. Starr

Age: 36

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Motorcycle accident

Incident date: Dec. 5, 1953

Starr died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while responding to a call that a child had been struck by a car.

Deputy William T. McKinn

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Oct. 7, 1939

Suspect: Killed by citizens

McKinn was fatally shot in the back while attempting to serve a warrant at a community dance at Clouds Cove School. Two suspects were arrested in connection with his murder. Both men were later shot to death by angry citizens.

Deputy R. Hugh Craft

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: June 12, 1929

Suspect: Unknown

Craft was assassinated because of his work as a federal prohibition agent. He was driving from his farm in Gurley to Huntsville when he was ambushed and shot in the face with a shotgun. The suspects then shot him in the head with a pistol before fleeing.

Deputy James C. Drake

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Feb. 11, 1928

Suspect: Unknown

Drake was shot and killed as he attempted to serve a civil paper on a man. The suspect was in possession of another man’s mule, and a bond had been issued to have the mule returned to the owner. As Drake attempted to deliver the bond, the suspect opened fire on him, fatally wounding him.

Officer Frank McKissack

Age: 31

Tour: 3 years

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: May 26, 1916

Suspect: Shot and killed

McKissack was shot and killed in a gun battle after finding two suspects burglarizing a Huntsville hardware store.

Madison Constable William A. Russell Jr.

Age: 65

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Assault

Incident date: Nov. 22, 1903

Suspect: Sentenced to life

Russell died of injuries sustained when he was struck on the head by a woman wielding a heavy stick. He had been attempting to serve court papers on the woman because she had failed to pay for furniture.

Deputy Jailer Tim Anderson

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Assault

Incident date: July 7, 1887

Suspect: Apprehended

Anderson was fatally wounded as he brought an inmate breakfast in his cell. The inmate grabbed the iron fastening used to lock his cell and attacked Anderson, beating him over the head.

Officer William J. Street

Age: 42

Tour: 10 years

Cause: Assault

Incident date: Oct. 8, 1883

Suspect: Arrested and hanged

Street was killed when he was struck in the head with an ax as he investigated a disturbance at a home.

U.S. Marshal John B. Hardie

Age: Unknown

Tour: Unknown

Cause: Gunfire

Incident date: Dec. 8, 1880

Suspect: Unknown

Hardie was shot and killed in Marshall County while he and two other federal agents attempted to serve a warrant for illicit distilling.

–Our news partners The Huntsville Times/Al.com contributed to this report.