Mr. Gnader, a tired 83-year-old man who we all knew was just a little off his rocker, committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our nice little town. It seems that Mr. Gnader was a full-blown schizophrenic who suffered from severe bouts of paranoia and depression.
For those of you who don't know, and as a reminder to those who have forgotten, we have a gymnasium at the high school known as the Wilson Dome. Of course, Wilson Dome is named after a man who had given much to serve his community. In fact, it is named after David Neal Wilson, who was murdered while serving as our police chief by Gnader. Chief Wilson died on Sept. 11, 1992 while trying to help Mr. Gnader.
The investigation revealed that Mr. Gnader called Dave to his home to ask him to keep an eye on his place. Dave being the kind public servant that we all knew him to be, responded as requested. Even though he was mentally ill, Gnader had the mental capacity to hide a .38 caliber pistol in a towel and wait for Dave to knock on his door. Gnader shot him twice, killing him within minutes. Gnader, being depressed and mentally ill then walked into his shed and shot himself.
We had a grand funeral complete with bagpipes and color guards with dignitaries from around the state in attendance. More than 1,500 people came to honor Chief Wilson and we had a marvelous procession of police cars and motorcycles which brought the town to a standstill.
Dave Wilson, who was a good friend to many of us, was also a husband and father of two children and a grandfather of three. He was loved by many people, including his son Chris.
We all struggle when we lose somebody we love. Chris Wilson suffered deeply and within two years died at his own hands. The most horrible tragedies can sometimes have a multiplying effect in the lives of those who survive.
On June 30, 2007, one of my last duties as Chief of Police was to address the cadets who were preparing to graduate from the Payson Police Academy. They were all young men who were about to enter into a new phase of their lives. It has been more than a year now and they have seen and experienced more of humanity than most people do in a lifetime.
As a part of my message to the new recruits I recalled the story of the loss of Chief Wilson. I told them that we can sure put on a good funeral. After all, we have a lot of experience in burying our dead.
We can name a building after them and we will honor their sacrifice every year in May during Police Officers Memorial Week. We cannot, however, raise their children like they would and nobody can take their place in their family when they are gone. I told them (the cadets) that their first duty is to make it home at the end of their shift ... I told them "This is a dangerous business, do not underestimate this fact. There are people who will do you harm if you let them."
Officer Jared Meredith was a member of last year's graduating class. He is married and the father of two beautiful children. Jared is a good man, a kind man and a man of faith. I know that he is good father and a husband who would want to see his kids grow and prosper in life.
Sgt. David Blalock is a gentle giant who is a husband, father and grandfather. He cares deeply about many things, especially his family and the officers who he works with. Sgt. Blalock has served for almost 15 years and worked tirelessly as a training officer, a school resource officer and a patrol sergeant.
It seems as though some nameless, person decided to write an anonymous letter to the Rim Country Gazette regarding the attempted at suicide by cop committed by Jacque Rosholm, which resulted in her being shot. I don't like anonymous letters, they're wrong and normally I would ignore them. In this case, two good police officers are being called cowards and bad boys by somebody who hides behind a cloak of anonymity while using a newspaper to spread their vile.
Suicide by cop is wrong and there is no excuse for it. I have been on the scene of many suicides and threats of suicides. For sure it is a very sad and troubling thing for all concerned, but to force a police officer to shoot you is just plain wrong.
In a nutshell, if you point a gun at a police officer there is very good chance that you will be shot. I don't care if you are built like a sparrow or a giant, the decision-making process is the same. It takes maybe 10 pounds of pressure and a fraction of a second to pull a trigger; even a depressed sparrow-like woman can kill a police officer.
Sgt. Blalock and Officer Meredith did just what they were trained to do. Once a gun comes out in a threatening manner it has a tendency to end negotiations.
Finally, I have wept while carrying the casket of a fallen officer. I once liked the song "Amazing Grace," until it was played on bagpipes at Chief Wilson's funeral. I hope beyond hope to never have to carry a fallen comrade again.