“I say goodbye to them every night”; Hundreds remember fallen officers one-year after courthouse shooting

Posted at 12:30 AM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 00:31:42-04

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Hundreds gathered Tuesday evening to remember the two officers who died during an escape attempt at the Berrien County Courthouse.

Last year, July 11, 2016, Chief of Courthouse Security Joseph Zangaro and Bailiff Ron Kienzle were killed in the line of duty in the hallway of the courthouse by an inmate who grabbed a deputy's gun during an escape attempt.

Law enforcement and the community marched from the courthouse to the fallen officers memorial at Lake Bluff Park, where they gathered for a candlelight vigil and speeches.

"We're still sad from the tragedy that happened, but we're moving on because my two friends would want us to," Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said. "Ron and Joe were about service, and when I feel down I hear both of them telling me keep moving, keep going, that's what God would want you to do."

It was a somber evening. The group joined in song and prayer. Many expressed their gratitude to the police.

"I admire police officers because they put their uniforms on every morning and not knowing whether they're going to be home at night or not," said Jim O'Malley, a member of the Victim Services Unit.

The gunman who tried to escape, Larry Gordon, was shot and killed. Berrien County Deputy James Atterbury and a hostage were injured.

But for those who knew the men who died, saying goodbye isn't easy.

"I say goodbye to them every night I go home," Sheriff Bailey said. "I think people tell us thanks more because of the tragedy that happened, even though they appreciated us [before], we hear it more now just because of what happened to two wonderful men."