Trooper Kenneth Velez chief among honorees at 2017 Lorain County Police Memorial Service


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



Col. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, shares his grief over the death of friend and fellow trooper Kenneth Velez.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

The Lorain police honor guard folds the American flag.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

The Avon Lake PD Rifle Team offers a salute outside the Lorain High School Performing Arts Center.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

Wellington police chief Tim Barfield tells the story of officer Edmund Smith’s death at the hands of Walter Byomin, who was later executed for the murder.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

THE FALLEN

• July 17, 1883: Wellington Marshal George Brenner

• Nov. 11, 1905: Rochester Marshal Spooner Crapo

• April 10, 1916: Amherst Constable Rupert Becker

• July 27, 1920: New York Central Railroad Det. Sgt. David Barnes

• Dec. 23, 1923: Lorain Ptl. Fred Webber

• Nov. 6, 1925: Lorain Ptl. Charles Deal

• June 13, 1930: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Franklin Strohl

• Aug. 18, 1942: Elyria Ptl. Howard Taft

• March 30, 1944: Lorain Ptl. George Kirk

• May 4, 1957: Wellington Ptl. Edmund Smith

• Jan. 9, 1961: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Michael George

• Jan. 21, 1964: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. John Palermo

• March 10, 1971: Oberlin Ptl. Robert Woodall

• Oct. 29, 1978: Vermilion Ptl. Francis Smolka

• July 3, 1979: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Kenneth Tomaszewski

• Jan. 31, 1986: Veterans Administration officer Leonard Wilcox

• Jan. 14, 1991: Ohio National Guard Spec. Brian Spackman

• May 15, 2000: Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Perez

• Jan. 8, 2002: Beaufort, S.C., Sheriff’s Corp. Dyke Coursen

• Dec. 10, 2003: Ohio National Guard Sgt. Todd Bates

• Dec. 10, 2003: Ohio National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Reese

• Aug. 27, 2004: Elyria Ptl. Bradley Scott

• May 26, 2007: Cleveland Heights Ptl. Jason West

• March 15, 2010: Elyria Ptl. James Kerstetter

• Sept. 15, 2016: Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez

• Jan. 24, 2017: Cleveland Ptl. David Fahey

The words “gone but not forgotten” were intoned over and over Thursday at the Lorain County Police Memorial Service.

Law enforcement officers, gathered at Lorain High School, mourned comrades who died in the line of duty. Twenty-six were remembered going back to 1883.

For Col. Paul Pride, the deepest cut was the death of state trooper Kenneth Velez on Sept. 15, 2016.

Velez, of Lorain, was the proud father of Amherst Steele High School students. He and Pride graduated together from the Ohio State Highway Patrol academy.

Now superintendent of the Patrol, Pride spoke at Velez’s funeral last year and said he was touched by the outpouring of support from people who lined streets, waving flags, as well as businesses that posted window signs along the funeral procession route.

“He was not only loved by his family, but he was loved by his community, by each of you,” he told officers.

Each year, Wellington marshal George Brenner and patrolman Edmund Smith are among those honored at the memorial.

Brenner was killed July 17, 1883, shot by 19-year-old burglary suspect August Tiery near the W. & L.E. Railroad Depot. The fatal shot pierced Brenner’s neck but he struggled home to die in his wife’s arms. Tiery was sentenced to life in prison and died when he set fire to his own bed. An accomplice, 29-year-old John Young, served five years behind bars.

Smith died May 4, 1957, gunned down by domestic violence suspect Walter Byomin of Cleveland near Baker and Maple streets. Two years later, Byomin was executed.

Both National Police Week and National Peace Officers Memorial Day are observed in May. Many memorials will be held from shore to shore this month to remember those who have served and died in the line of duty, Pride said.

In all, 144 American law enforcement officers were killed last year. In addition to Velez, five others hailed from Ohio:

• Officer Aaron Christian of the Chesapeake police department died when his car went off a road and into a creek.

• Officer Sean Johnson of the Hilliard police department died in a motorcycle crash during training.

• Officer Steven Smith of the Columbus police department died of a gunshot wound sustained when a felony arson suspect opened fire on a SWAT team.

• Officer Thomas Cottrell Jr. of the Danville police department was shot and killed in an ambush.

• K9 Jethro of the Canton police department was shot to death by a grocery store burglar.

Already in 2017, Ohio has mourned Cleveland police officer David Fahey, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while investigating a fatal traffic crash on Interstate 90, less than a mile from where Velez died.

“We’re left wishing we could turn the clock back so they could be with us. But we know that’s not possible,” Pride said.

He described the fallen as people of unwavering courage and unshakable character.

We can never repay the debts owed to the fallen or their families. However, we can continue to honor their memories, he said.

Pride said the service is a poignant reminder of the risks taken by those who wear the badge.

“Think how dark this world would be without noble men and women such as these,” he said.

Police know they will be exposed to great danger but are not deterred, said Avon Lake police chief Duane Streator.

“Be assured, we in law enforcement will be here for you whenever you need us,” he said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Col. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, shares his grief over the death of friend and fellow trooper Kenneth Velez.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/05/web1_DSC_7098.jpgCol. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, shares his grief over the death of friend and fellow trooper Kenneth Velez.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

The Lorain police honor guard folds the American flag.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/05/web1_DSC_7115.jpgThe Lorain police honor guard folds the American flag.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

The Avon Lake PD Rifle Team offers a salute outside the Lorain High School Performing Arts Center.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/05/web1_DSC_7144.jpgThe Avon Lake PD Rifle Team offers a salute outside the Lorain High School Performing Arts Center.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

Wellington police chief Tim Barfield tells the story of officer Edmund Smith’s death at the hands of Walter Byomin, who was later executed for the murder.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/05/web1_DSC_7130-wel.jpgWellington police chief Tim Barfield tells the story of officer Edmund Smith’s death at the hands of Walter Byomin, who was later executed for the murder.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com

THE FALLEN

• July 17, 1883: Wellington Marshal George Brenner

• Nov. 11, 1905: Rochester Marshal Spooner Crapo

• April 10, 1916: Amherst Constable Rupert Becker

• July 27, 1920: New York Central Railroad Det. Sgt. David Barnes

• Dec. 23, 1923: Lorain Ptl. Fred Webber

• Nov. 6, 1925: Lorain Ptl. Charles Deal

• June 13, 1930: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Franklin Strohl

• Aug. 18, 1942: Elyria Ptl. Howard Taft

• March 30, 1944: Lorain Ptl. George Kirk

• May 4, 1957: Wellington Ptl. Edmund Smith

• Jan. 9, 1961: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Michael George

• Jan. 21, 1964: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. John Palermo

• March 10, 1971: Oberlin Ptl. Robert Woodall

• Oct. 29, 1978: Vermilion Ptl. Francis Smolka

• July 3, 1979: Lorain County Sheriff’s Dep. Kenneth Tomaszewski

• Jan. 31, 1986: Veterans Administration officer Leonard Wilcox

• Jan. 14, 1991: Ohio National Guard Spec. Brian Spackman

• May 15, 2000: Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Perez

• Jan. 8, 2002: Beaufort, S.C., Sheriff’s Corp. Dyke Coursen

• Dec. 10, 2003: Ohio National Guard Sgt. Todd Bates

• Dec. 10, 2003: Ohio National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Reese

• Aug. 27, 2004: Elyria Ptl. Bradley Scott

• May 26, 2007: Cleveland Heights Ptl. Jason West

• March 15, 2010: Elyria Ptl. James Kerstetter

• Sept. 15, 2016: Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez

• Jan. 24, 2017: Cleveland Ptl. David Fahey