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Sad day in Whidbey history remembered

The flag esplanade at the Coupeville Courthouse Annex served as a fitting venue Tuesday afternoon to honor two Island County Sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty 20 years ago.

Sheriff Mark Brown, standing at the podium next to a memorial stone for William J. Heffernan and John R. Saxerud, paid tribute to the deputies who were fatally shot Nov. 14, 1987.

“This day will always be remembered as the first time in Island County history that two deputies were gunned down in the line of duty,” Brown said. “This day will always be remembered as the first time in Island County history that law enforcement was asked to bury two of our own and bear the burden of that loss.”

Charisse Waldron and Connie Almon dampened many eyes as they sang, “You Raise Me Up.” The flood of emotion continued as Heffernan’s son, Kevin, a Seattle Police Department K-9 officer and Harry Uncapher, Island County Sheriff’s lieutenant, laid a wreath above the memorial stone.

As the large group of community members, elected officials and countless law enforcement personnel paid tribute to Heffernan and Saxerud, Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton said, “On behalf of the citizens, we just want to say a giant thank you.”

Brown made a personal challenge to the memorial attendees during the time period the county commissioners have officially proclaimed Island County Law Enforcement Week.

“Join us in this observance by seeking knowledge and understanding of public safety issues,” the sheriff said. “With this in mind, I challenge each and every one of you to realize that as your protectors, we also need your protection; as your first responders, we also need the resources to respond; and as your public servants, we also need manpower to better serve.”

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