Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 14, 2014

Rich's death hard to bear

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Many Christians believe St. Michael to be the patron saint of policemen.

And quite a few of them from across the national likely will call on St. Michael on behalf of the nation’s fallen law enforcement officers Thursday on Peace Officers Memorial Day, just as many from the area did after the death of State Police Master Trooper David Rich seven years ago.

The 18-year veteran of the state police, and detective based out of the Peru Post, stopped July 5, 2007, on U.S. 24 to help a man whom he believed to be just a stranded motorist. That motorist, a 21-year-old Michigan man, shot Rich in the chest with a shotgun, killing him, state police said.

The man then reloaded the shotgun and took his own life, state police said.

Rich left behind a wife, a daughter and twin sons. All three of his children were under the age of 8 the day of his death.

State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum told us Rich was the nicest man he’d ever met.

“If that guy needed help, [Rich] would have gave him his shoes, his pants,” Slocum said after the shooting. “He would have done anything to help him, just as he’s done here on many occasions at the post.”

It’s difficult to deal with death. But a senseless death, a violent death without provocation and involving a police officer, is particularly hard for families, friends, fellow officers and communities to bear. More often than not, policemen are active in the communities they protect.

Tipton County still mourns the loss of Sheriff’s Capt. Matt Thompson, killed in a motorcycle accident eight years ago this coming July. He was a fixture at Tri-Central High School football and basketball games. He helped coach Trojan softball teams for 10 years. He was loved and respected and is missed.

So, once again, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of David Rich and Matt Thompson. We thank them for sharing their loved ones with the north central Indiana community and wish them peace. And we remind readers to fly flags at half-staff Thursday.

And if St. Michael truly is the patron saint of police officers, we hope he continues to intercede with God on their behalf.