Late in the afternoon five years ago today, I was just settling in for my night-reporter shift in the Rapid City Journal newsroom when I heard something on the police scanner I’d never before heard: “Officers down!”
Officers down? Officers?
That’s a “runner” for a news reporter. You run out of the newsroom and run to your car and race as safely and legally as you can to the site of the news.
It was horrid, that site — and its sights – at the corner of Anamosa and Greenbriar in North Rapid City. Officer Tim Doyle was badly wounded, and being rushed from the scene. Officer Ryan McCandless was dead. Officer Nick Armstrong was mortally wounded and would die later in the hospital.
Their assailant, 22-year-old Daniel Tiger — a young man I’d seen in Mass from time to time years earlier at St. Isaac Jogues Church, tending lovingly to his grandmother — had pulled a gun and opened fire during what started out as a random check for an open container in North Rapid City.
Tiger suffered wounds in the return fire that would prove fatal.
So much that day was tragic: The deaths of two young officers with their whole lives ahead. And the terrible turn of a young man who surely had promise but got lost on the edges of society and turned increasingly angry and addicted and eventually so deranged that he ended his own life by taking the lives of others.
I still feel the emotions of that day, and the loss of those two young officers — a loss that is so much deeper and more profound for their fellow officers, and especially for the loved ones who must carry it every day.
I grieve today for who they might have become and what they might have meant in this community and this world. They already were and meant a lot.
I carry their memory with me, and always will.
But I also think of Daniel Tiger, about what good might have waited for him in a different world or with different opportunities and the sustaining salve of hope. I grieve that terrible turn he took and the loss that his family suffered that day — a loss that they, too, carry with them every day.
And I pray I’ll never again hear those words: “Officers down!”