Family, friends remember Baltimore officer year after his death

Service commemorates `one of the good ones'

July 04, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

One year after Baltimore City police Officer Brian D. Winder was gunned down while on duty in the neighborhood where he grew up, his widow can't bear looking at the West Baltimore liquor store where he was killed.

"I have not been able to go out there and stand," said Lorrie Winder, minutes before a ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of his death yesterday evening. "I can't put the feelings of my grief into words."

The ceremony was held half a block from the cracked pavement where Winder, a 10-year veteran of the force, died. White and blue candles were passed out to the crowd of about 150 people who gathered to remember a man they termed "one of the good ones."

Family members wore T-shirts printed with Winder's photo on the front. Old friends embraced, and many were too choked up to talk about their friendship with Winder.

"It never gets easier," said Corey Winder, Winder's 16-year-old son. "I walk past here every day to go to work. My dad was a great man."

Brian Winder was gunned down while responding to a domestic dispute call about 9 p.m. July 3, 2004.

He saw two men retreat into the G&G Village Liquor Store, a small shop on Edmondson Avenue, then called for backup before speaking to the pair. One man ambushed him, shooting him in the leg and the chest - above his bulletproof vest.

Winder was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead.

"It doesn't seem like it's been a year," said Chief of Patrol Col. Deborah Owens, "I hope this is a closing point, and I'm hopeful that tomorrow is a new start for all of us. I hope it is, at least."

"The first anniversary, that is the hardest," said Barbara Heckman-Sauer, a staff member with Concerns of Police Officers Inc., a national organization that provides support for families of slain officers, who helped organize the ceremony.

"We want the family to know that Brian is not forgotten," she said.

Mayor Martin O'Malley called Winder "one of those rare people who committed himself to make his community better. For me, and for his family, no Fourth of July will ever be the same."

Two suspects were identified in the shooting, Jermaine A. Gaines and Charles Bennett.

Gaines was arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree murder. That charge was later reduced to a weapons violation, and argument in his trial ended last week. The jury is still deliberating.

Bennett fled the scene that night. After a three-day manhunt, officers found him hiding in a hotel in Northwest Baltimore. As police entered the hotel room to arrest him, Bennett shot himself, using what lab reports showed was the same gun that was used to kill Winder.

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