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Slain officers to be honored

The dozen who died in the line of duty will be memorialized Saturday.

By JON WILSON
Published May 6, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - Gunmen shot several to death. One was stabbed. Two died during Christmas and three died in traffic accidents.

The 12 St. Petersburg police officers who have died in the line of duty the past 102 years will be honored Saturday at Demens Landing.

Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to attend the 1 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public.

An organization called The Heroes of the St. Pete Police is conducting the event, which will include a color guard, a rifle team and the playing of taps.

"It's going to be a solemn kind of an event, a memorial, " said Dave DeKay, an assistant police chief who is a nonvoting member of the Heroes organization.

The group, which includes state Rep. Richard Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, as a board member, will launch a campaign to raise $200, 000 for a monument to be placed in the park, DeKay said. No images exist of what the monument might look like. After money is raised for it, an artist will be sought.

The city arts commission will manage the process, DeKay said. "We just wanted something where the public could go and appreciate the officers. It's really being done not only for employees but for the public to show respect and appreciate what we do, " DeKay said.

The organization will continue to provide financial help for officers' families in crisis, he said.

The first St. Petersburg officer to die on duty was police Chief James J. Mitchell on Christmas Day, 1905. He had arrested a man for disorderly conduct behind a saloon on Central Avenue between Second and Third streets.

Another man attacked Mitchell from behind with a knife. The chief died from his wounds. A mob later stormed the city jail, overwhelmed police, used ladders to climb to jail windows and shot the killer dead.

The last to die was Herbert Ray Sullivan, an undercover detective shot to death on Aug. 18, 1980. Working a drug case, Sullivan was sitting alone in his parked pickup when a man walked up and shot him several times in the chest.

Sammie Lee Mathis and William G. Haake, both named in the case, are serving life sentences.

Fast Facts:

 

Died in service

These are the St. Petersburg police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

Chief of Police James J. Mitchell, Dec. 25, 1905, stabbed.

Constable Edward Adolphus George, Sept. 16, 1908, shot.

Detective Wayne M. Barry, May 23, 1929, shot.

Officer Eugene W. Minor, Oct. 25, 1929, shot.

Officer Frank A. Pike, May 19, 1933, automobile accident.

Officer James W. Thornton, Oct. 16, 1937, shot.

Officer William G. Newberry, Oct. 17, 1937, shot.

Officer James J. Goodson, Dec. 25, 1947, shot.

Officer Eugene A. (Gene) Bessette, Nov. 19, 1961, motorcycle accident.

Officer James A. Krupp, April 15, 1964, automobile accident.

Officer Charles Lee Eustes, Sept. 24, 1967, shot.

Detective Herbert Ray Sullivan, Aug. 18, 1980, shot.

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 18:16:53]


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