Teri Vance: It’s our time to be warriors

We are a community in mourning. Today marks one week since Deputy Carl Howell, 35, was gunned down while responding to a report of domestic violence.

The former Marine and 9-year veteran of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office returned fire, killing assailant, Jonathon Pope, 30, officials said.

Howell’s death is the first killing of a law enforcement officer in Carson City in more than a century.

In its wake we are outraged, confused and devastated.

But we are also a community filled with deep gratitude and pride.

In less than 24 hours after the married father of four was slain, the community mobilized. Hundreds attended a candlelight vigil at the Nevada Peace Officer Memorial on the Legislative grounds. Strangers comforted one another, as Howell’s family appeared buoyed by the outpouring of support.

In the ensuing days local businesses and colleagues collected donations. Signs featuring a badge covered with a black band — the traditional symbol of mourning for a fallen officer — could be seen in downtown storefronts. Facebook and other social media sites teemed a sea of tributes to Howell’s heroism.

Sheriff Ken Furlong and officers at the scene credit him with saving lives by giving his own.

Several of his fellow officers got matching tattoos that read, “He ran toward gunfire.”

During the funeral procession Thursday, as Howell’s flag-draped coffin was carried through Carson City to his funeral in Reno, hundreds of residents lined the route — many waving American flags.

More than 1,000 people, including law enforcement officers from as far away as New York City, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Seattle, were in attendance.

“As sad as I am — as devastated as I am and broken-hearted — I take comfort that the pride that swells is pushing the grief away,” Howell’s father Kevin Howell said during the service. “What more can you ask of a person than what Carl did?”

Many people have called Howell a true warrior. And he was.

But now we must be, too.

This year’s National Night Out was dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence, which Furlong referred to as an epidemic.

Less than two weeks later, two people were dead from a domestic dispute, one of them an officer.

This isn’t a police problem, it’s a community problem — one we need to address.

What better tribute can we pay a man who sacrificed himself for the greater good, than to create a safer community.

“Carl put his own life first while answering the call of duty to protect the community of Carson City,” a 911 dispatcher said during the last call for deputy 5466. “The men of women of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office were proud to serve with you and will never forget the sacrifice that you made.”

Let us all never forget.


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