The afternoon of Oct. 30, 1999, my family and I were standing near the front entrance of the Wal-Mart store when I heard a siren in the distance. It's difficult to explain, but perhaps you know the feeling, when you sense something is terribly wrong. That sensation swept through me as I ran out the door not knowing what I was looking for. I turned to my left to see a police officer lying on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound, and a woman offering medical aid. Time seemed to stand still. The sirens, the shouts and the desperate cry of a frightened little girl hung in the air as if to herald the entrance of fear and panic.
As the emergency response personnel converged on the scene, it felt as though they were building a protective shield -- not just around the injured officer, but around everyone there.
I was impressed by the sincere commitment I felt from the paramedic teams, police officers and ambulance crews as they worked together to save the officer, capture the gunman and ensure the safety of the townspeople.
This week, the Rim Country Rotary Club held a banquet to honor the Payson Police Department and two outstanding employees. One was the officer who was shot that Saturday, Officer Allen Dyer.
There is no telling what could have happened if the gunman had entered the crowded store or taken a hostage. Officer Dyer stood between danger and death. Witnesses say his only concern was whether the people were safe and if anyone was hurt.
The other outstanding award recipient was 911 dispatch operator Kim Werner who maintained professionalism and effective communications from the dispatch center during the shooting, and all year.
During the banquet, Chief Gordon Gartner asked all of the personnel who were on duty that October day to stand with Officer Dyer. This reunion was also a reminder that we are fortunate to have so many dedicated people who work to serve and protect us. We would like to thank everyone who responded that day -- from the Wal-Mart employees, police officers, paramedic crews and the off-duty EMTs and firefighters who heard the call for help. We're proud of you all.
Richard Haddad, Publisher