Suffolk police join in mourning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

Officer Sheila Herring-Patrick, 39, a Norfolk Police Officer, was shot to death outside a bar where she had responded to a call early Thursday morning.

Police officers in Suffolk join others across the nation in mourning the death of Herring-Patrick, who is believed to be the first female police officer killed in the U.S. this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

In Suffolk, officers wear the black shroud across their badges, indication that they have lost one of their own.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We are all affected by this officer’s death,&uot; said Suffolk Police Chief William A. Freeman. &uot;It’s had a devastating impact on the law enforcement community, specifically in the Hampton Roads area where the departments work so closely with each other. When anything happens to any one of the officers, it has a great impact upon all. We are like extended family. Our hearts and prayers go out to Officer Herring-Patrick’s family and the Norfolk Police officers who served with her.&uot;

Suffolk Police Officer Fred Panton said his badge would be shrouded for the loss of a &uot;sister officer.&uot;

&uot;It’s a tragedy, and it shows just how dangerous this job can be each day,&uot; said Panton. &uot;You leave home and you may not ever return. You think of that each time you walk out the door. My prayers go out to her family and I am hurt for her family and I know my fellow officers all feel the loss of one of our own.&uot;

Herring-Patrick was shot once in the abdomen and once in each leg, in areas not protected by her bullet-proof vest, police spokesman Chris Amos said. She died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital about an hour after the shooting.

Of the 147 law enforcement officers nationwide killed on duty last year, 14 were women, according to statistics kept by the nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.

The shootings happened at about 1:45 a.m., when four officers responded to a call that someone had been shot at Champion’s Sports Bar in the 1000 block of Brambleton Avenue, Amos said.

The officers found several people outside the bar and separated them for questioning, Amos said.

According a Norfolk Police spokesman, the suspect produced a gun and shot the officer. The other three officers returned fire and killed the suspect.

Herring-Patrick is the 36th Norfolk police officer, and the first female officer in the city, to be killed on duty since 1904, according to police department records. She was hired by the Norfolk police department in February 2002, graduated from the Norfolk police academy last August and was put on patrol. Before that, she had worked as a police officer in Detroit and at the Norfolk International Airport.