Each New Year offers a fresh start for law enforcement officers and a new goal for all Americans – to reverse the spike in line-of-duty deaths, which surged nearly 40 percent in 2010 over 2009 with 162 officers killed. Our high hopes for significantly reducing the number of law enforcement officer fatalities in 2011 were almost immediately deflated with the lethal shooting of Clark County (OH) Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Hopper on New Year’s Day. “This is the worst day of my 24 years as the Sheriff of Clark County,” Sheriff Gene Kelly said.
Deputy Hopper reported to a mobile home park in Enon, northeast of Dayton, responding to a call about gunshots fired in the vicinity. While photographing footprints at the scene, gunman Michael Ferryman, 57, opened his silver trailer door to ambush Deputy Hopper, 40, with a shotgun. Deputy Hopper was killed instantly at approximately 11:30 am Saturday. “She never had the opportunity to return fire or take cover. She was an outstanding deputy,” said Sheriff Kelly.
Despite being told to surrender by authorities, Ferryman continued to fire at officers responding to the “officer down” call, forcing them to draw their weapons and return fire. Law enforcement personnel from four neighboring departments reported to the standoff, along with a Special Operations team and two SWAT teams. Ferryman was shot and killed during the exchange. Another officer, German Township (OH) Police Officer Jeremy Blum, 32, was wounded and taken to a hospital in Dayton for treatment.
In 2001, Ferryman played a role in an eerily similar incident; he repeatedly fired a weapon at law enforcement officers responding to a disturbance involving gunshots reported at a camp ground. Although Ferryman fired several times at authorities during a 26-hour standoff, no one was injured. After being found unfit for trial, he was committed into a psychiatric institution, and then found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2003; ultimately he was released from psychiatric care two years later.
Deputy Hopper, a wife and mother of two, was not only the first officer killed in 2011, but also the first Clark County officer killed on duty since 1978, as well as the first female officer to be killed on New Year’s Day . “It’s evident that she did more for people because she loved people, and I think that was why she picked the career that she picked,” her father, Charles Bauer said.
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