Veteran and prospective Concord Police officers talk about fallen officers ongoing influence

Fallen Officer Memorial dedicated in Concord
The community gathered in front of the police department for the unveiling of a new Fallen Officer Memorial.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 8:49 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Thursday was an emotional night for many in Concord. The community gathered in front of the police department for the unveiling of a new Fallen Officer Memorial. It honors the memory of two fallen officers; one that died more than 120 years ago, and another that was killed exactly one year ago.

The new statue is called The Fallen. Created by Loveland, Colorado, artist Austin Weishal, it depicts an officer in a Concord Honor Guard uniform standing at parade rest watching over a sacred space…a tear coming from his left eye.

The statue is the outward, public way to honor the memory of fallen officers William Kearns and Jason Shuping, but one veteran and two prospective CPD officers said tonight that they are living legacies to the influence of Officer Jason Shuping.

Edward Watkins served 20 years with the NYPD, 10 years with the Birmingham, Alabama, PD, was a 9/11 first responder…he said on Thursday that the death of Jason Shuping brought him back to police work, this time with Concord. He says when he heard about the incident in which Shuping was killed, he couldn’t get it out of his mind.

“This young man didn’t have a chance, and in spite of a very short career he actually saved the life of another police officer and was instrumental in the apprehension of the suspect,” Watkins said. “I’ve never lost a child, I can only imagine. You go from a sense of being proud that your child is endeavoring in a very proud profession, very honorable profession, and suddenly his life is cut short, so that moved me.”

Watkins said that when Concord Poice Chief Gary Gacek asked him why he wanted to join the CPD, he answered with two words: “Jason Shuping.”

Prospective officer Sam Wimbrow says Shuping’s death increased his desire to serve, and he says all of the community support shown in the last year and on Thursday night, was also a reason.

‘It was really pretty awesome to see, made me want to be a part of it,” Wimbrow said. He just completed his Basic Law Enforcement Training and is looking forward to beginning his career.

Fred Peace, Jr., is another prospective officer with Concord PD. He’s wanted to be an officer for a long time and says his uncle served with Concord PD.

“I was always looking at his uniform, look at his badges, I would always put them on and run around the house in them,” Peace said.

Peace met Jason Shuping and says Shuping encouraged him to follow his desire to become a police officer. One month later, Shuping was gone.

“It made me want to start earlier and as fast as I could,” Peace said.

When Officer William Kearns was shot to death 122 years ago, his last words were reported to be ‘Lord Have Mercy.’ As members of his family and that of Jason Shuping pondered the memorial, their prayer, and those of many in the community, are that they never have to add another name to the two already commemorated at the memorial.

“You hear about stuff like that happening pretty much everywhere. You never think it’s going to happen in your hometown,” Wimbrow added.

Jason Shuping’s watch ended one year ago. During his eulogy, Chief Gacek said “take comfort in knowing that we have one more guardian angel watching over us.”

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.