Law enforcement officers face tragedy daily. Sometimes that tragedy hits close to home.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 2, Hazlehurst (MS) PD Officer Laquandia Cooley was dispatched to a shooting on Larkin Street. A body was laying in the street with a gunshot wound to the head. Officer Cooley recognized the victim. It was 20-year-old Charles Stewart, Jr.—her son. A local media outlet reported Officer Cooley’s response, “‘As we get out, I look and I was like, ‘This is my son, this is my son.’ So, I literally just go into a break down you know? Like, why? Who would do this to my son?’ And that’s a sight Cooley says she’ll never forget. ‘I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. I was seeing my own son laying there on the ground dead. It was pretty much a panic. It was just, it was too much.” Pray for Officer Cooley and the Hazlehurst PD.
Just before 9 pm Monday, January 3, North Carolina State Trooper John Horton stopped a car for a traffic violation in Rutherford County, just southeast of Asheville. As is common, another trooper who was close by responded to assist. The roads were treacherous following a day of snow, sleet, and dropping temperatures in the Smoky Mountains. The officer coming to help lost control of his cruiser and slid into Trooper Horton’s vehicle. The stationary vehicle was push forward and struck both Trooper John Horton and the civilian, killing both. The responding officer who crashed his cruiser was Trooper James Horton, John’s brother. Pray for the family of the civilian who was killed as well as the Horton family and the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
The Strong Blue Line on the road
On Sunday, January 2, I spoke at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. A special thanks to Pastor Frank Pomeroy, his wife Sherri, and all the wonderful people at Sutherland Springs FBC. It was great to see old friends. The church building that was shot up in the 2017 attack has been replaced by a beautiful new building. The church continues to be a strong and positive force for good in the community.
The terrorist attack at the synagogue in north Texas last month is a reminder that our houses of worship are targets for terrorists, disgruntled parishioners, and people with mental disorders. Church safety response teams need to remain vigilant. I wrote Pistol in the Pulpit in 2015 to help faith-based organizations decide whether an armed safety response team was right for their organization or not. The book is relevant more than ever.
On Sunday, January 9, I spoke at Anchor Baptist Church in San Antonio. Anchor Baptist has supported the ministry for a couple years now. A special thank you to Pastor Howard Vickery and the fine folks at Anchor.
On December 16, Burke Swearingen, Blue Watch, said he had the honor of giving copies of Suicide is Not an Option and Winning a Gunfight to academy graduates at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Training Center in Alabama. There were 35 graduates representing 17 sheriff’s offices from across the state. Pray these books will prove valuable to these new officers.
On January 22, I was asked to be part of the local John Maxwell LIVE2LEAD Idaho Falls Virtual Event sponsored by Marrianne Forrest of Infinity & Beyond. The local event was live and then a video from last October of Mr. Maxwell and his team was shown to participates. It’s great for Southeast Idaho to have access to the first-class training that Mr. Maxwell provides.
Tragedy hit home for the Idaho Falls PD last month. On January 16th, Isaac Flores, 24, of Idaho Falls was killed in a vehicle accident. Isaac was the son of IFPD Lieutenant Flores who died by suicide in 2015. Since Lieutenant Flores’ death the IFPD has cared for the Flores family. LECI chaplains assisted in the death notification to Mrs. Flores. Pray for the Flores family and the officers of the IFPD.
Pastor James Runcorn, one of the associate pastors at Watersprings, filled in for me when I was gone last month. Thanks so much, James! Pray for Cop Church as we head into the new year and face decisions with increases in my travel schedule.
Pray for your police.