Memorial ceremony set for May 16

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Each year, Chesterfield County’s law enforcement community joins family, friends and government leaders to remember and honor the brave officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The event is sponsored by the Chesterfield County Police Department, the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police Area Six, the Chesterfield Police Foundation and the Chesterfield Fraternal Order of Police. This outdoor candlelight ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at the Chesterfield County Circuit Court, located at 9500 Courthouse Road.

In the event of rain, the memorial ceremony will take place in the Chesterfield County public meeting room at 10001 Iron Bridge Road.

Law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2011 will be recognized, along with Chesterfield County police officers, Virginia Department of Corrections officers of Chesterfield County and Virginia State troopers from Area Six who died for the citizens of Chesterfield. During the month of May, hundreds of similar memorial events will be held throughout the country to honor America’s nearly 20,000 fallen law enforcement officers during National Police Week, May 13-19.

Officers being honored are as follows:

  • State Corrections Officer Archer Thomas Belcher: Officer Belcher, a prison guard at a work camp in Ettrick, was brutally attacked by three escaping inmates carrying a crowbar and other tools. He died as a result of his injuries. Officer Belcher was 47 years old, and was survived by his wife and 10 children. End of Watch: Feb. 15, 1912.
  • Officer Lamont Edwards: Officer Edwards was killed while responding to a burglary in progress, when his vehicle slid on a rain soaked roadway in Colonial Heights and struck a logging truck. Officer Edwards had been employed by the Chesterfield County Police Department for less than a year. Officer Edwards was 26 years old, and was survived by his wife and four young children. End of Watch: Jan. 5, 1957.
  • Officer John S. Thomas, Jr.: Officer Thomas was responding to an overturned car crash, with injuries, when his vehicle ran off the road on Forest Hill Avenue and struck a tree. Officer Thomas had been with the department for two years. Officer Thomas was 23 years old and was survived by his wife and young son. End of Watch: Oct. 29, 1969.
  • Trooper Garland W. Fisher, Jr.: Trooper Fisher was shot and wounded after a traffic stop in Dinwiddie County and was then abducted by his assailant. Trooper Fisher was later shot and killed by the suspect at a roadblock on Interstate 85 in North Carolina. Trooper Fisher was 33 years old and had been with the Virginia State Police for 12 years. He was survived by his wife and daughter. End of Watch: Nov. 15, 1976.
  • Trooper Leo Whitt: Trooper Whitt was shot while on a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in Prince George County. Shortly after he asked for driver’s license and registration, he was shot twice by his assailant and died at the scene. Trooper Whitt, a 21-year veteran of the Virginia State Police, was described by as a “quiet, easy-going, dedicated” state trooper. End of Watch: April 12, 1985.
  • Officer Craig W. Rath: Officer Rath, a six-year veteran of the department, was killed when his unmarked police car was struck by a vehicle on Bellwood Road. Officer Rath was 28 years old, and was survived by his wife, who was also an employee of the Chesterfield County Police Department. End of Watch: May 27, 1999.
  • Officer Ryan E. Cappelletty: Officer Cappelletty was shot and killed after he and another officer responded to reports of gun shots in a residential neighborhood on South Ridge Drive. Officer Cappelletty was shot by the suspect as he approached the front of the house, mortally wounding him. Officer Cappelletty had graduated from the academy only five months earlier. Officer Cappelletty was 23 years old and was survived by his wife. End of Watch: May 28, 2003.
  • Officer Gary Jonathan Buro: Officer Gary Buro, 34, was shot and killed when he and another officer responded to a domestic dispute on Totty Street in Ettrick. When the two officers entered the room where the suspect was, he immediately opened fire, taking the life of Officer Buro and wounding his partner. Officer Buro, a 15-year veteran of law enforcement, had only served with the Chesterfield County Police Department for five months. Officer Buro, a widower, was survived by his parents, sister and brother. End of Watch: May 4, 2006.

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