Protectors of the public mourn loss together - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Joe Birch 3/31/04 8:02PM

Protectors of the public mourn loss together

After the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, we're more keenly aware of the depth of loss when a public servant dies in the line of duty. The untimely death of officer Marlon Titus this week brought an avalanche of love to our front steps today.

Sandra Price stands in the street and collects your change every time.

"I try to anytime a policeman or fireman loses his life, I try to be here," Price, who is the sister of a fallen firefighter, said.

Sandra's brother, fire Lt. Javier Lerma, died in the line of duty March 8, 2000. He was shot by Fredrick Williams, who's accused of killing his wife, setting his house on fire and then ambushing the first responders: deputy Rupert Peete, firefighter William Blakemore and Sandra's brother, Lt. Lerma.

The overwhelming grief that engulfed the Lerma family, Sandra says, was lessened by outpourings of love like this.

"It was overwhelming: knowing how many people took time out to come out here and they really cared," said Lt. Mark Kellerhall of the Metro Gang Unit "It helps us to know that people do care."

Sheriff's deputies unite with police and firefighters on days like this to share their opinions about what happened and share their grief.

"It acts as a healing process in a way. It kind of lets the community know we do stick together thick and thin and we welcome them to be a participant in this," said Officer Terrance Harris, a friend of Titus. "It's kind of sad sometimes but an event like this---the bright spot is it brings the whole community together So we can start appreciating the firemen, the police officers, we're one big family, we're all here to serve."

Proceeds from today's 'In The Line Of Duty' drive will go to Officer Titus' wife and help pay for the future education of their 8-month-old baby.

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