Remembering the fallen: Vigil recognizes officers killed in the line of duty

Lexey Swall/Staff
Patricia Thompson holds her daughter, Annabelle Thompson, 10 months old, as she and her sister, Saundra Batrez, mourn the loss of their father, Sgt. Roy Williams, during the Collier County Sheriff's Office law enforcement memorial candlelight vigil Tuesday evening at East Naples United Methodist Church. Sgt. Williams died August 22, 1991, when his car left the road and struck a tree as he was returning from "investigating a suspicious aircraft" north of Everglades City. Tuesday's event was held to remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty in honor of National Law Enforcement Memorial Week which runs May 13-19. Members from all Collier County law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol, attended the event.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Lexey Swall/Staff Patricia Thompson holds her daughter, Annabelle Thompson, 10 months old, as she and her sister, Saundra Batrez, mourn the loss of their father, Sgt. Roy Williams, during the Collier County Sheriff's Office law enforcement memorial candlelight vigil Tuesday evening at East Naples United Methodist Church. Sgt. Williams died August 22, 1991, when his car left the road and struck a tree as he was returning from "investigating a suspicious aircraft" north of Everglades City. Tuesday's event was held to remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty in honor of National Law Enforcement Memorial Week which runs May 13-19. Members from all Collier County law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol, attended the event.

Officers whose end-of-watch came while on duty with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office:

Deputy W.B. Richardson

Deputy William Irwin

Deputy William E. Hutto

Deputy Maurice Eugene Anglin

Investigator Arthur Allen Amos

Cpl. Amedicus “Med’ Quincy Howell III

Cpl. Mark Caperton

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams

Sgt. Joe Nathan Jones

Deputy Raul “Rudy” Dimas Sr.

Officers whose end-of-watch came while on duty with the Naples Police Department:

Officer Carl Strickland

Officer Louie Collins

Bullets flew everywhere as Collier County sheriff's deputies exchanged fire with suspects in an Immokalee convenience store robbery.

It was dark and hard to see, former Collier deputy Kristopher Kuhl said of the night of March 29, 1983. After a few moments, someone realized Cpl. Amedicus Howell wasn't with the rest of the deputies.

"Nobody knew that Med had gotten shot," Kuhl said. "We found him slumped over in the car … He was already gone."

Amedicus "Med" Howell III died that night at age 33, the victim of a single bullet that hit him right above his protective vest.

On Tuesday, he and 11 other fallen law enforcement officers from the Sheriff's Office and Naples Police Department were honored at a ceremony at East Naples United Methodist Church. About 100 people attended the ceremony, one of many taking place nationwide for National Police Week, May 13 -19.

"Every 53 hours in this country, a law enforcement officer loses his or her life in the line of duty," Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said at the candlelight vigil. "Law enforcement continues to be a dangerous job for all of us."

For Deputy William E. Hutto, the first Collier County officer to be killed by gunfire, the fatal shot came on Christmas Eve 1931. His son, William Hutto Jr., was 9.

"His family never really talked about it a lot," said Michael Johnson, whose wife, Margaret, is the niece of Hutto Jr.

After the Johnsons moved to North Fort Myers from New York, the couple went to look at Hutto's plaque on a local memorial wall and learn more about what happened to him.

"I think it's important that we remember those who served," Johnson said.

The daughters of the late Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams also came to the ceremony for their father, who died in a single-vehicle crash on Aug. 22, 1991. The father of four was 43.

Saundra Batrez, then 8, was at home sleeping when her mother told her the news. Patricia Thompson, then 18, was working in the Sheriff's Office dispatch center. Both sisters said they try to attend the vigil each year to light a candle for their dad.

"He was an honest man who lived what he believed, and he loved it," Thompson said.

Although former deputy Kuhl was unable to make Tuesday's memorial, Med Howell's death, he says, was a "pretty sobering experience" that has stayed with the other officers as they've continued their careers.

"You don't appreciate life until something like this really wakes you up," Kuhl said. "You're talking to him one minute and he's being a prankster — the next minute he's gone."

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