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Slain trooper recalled by peers
SoVaNow.com / March 11, 2013A Virginia State Trooper slain Thursday on Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie County will be laid to rest Tuesday, following a funeral service in Petersburg that is expected to draw dignitaries and fellow law enforcement officers from around the state.
Junius Alvin Walker, a native of Lawrenceville, joined the Virginia State Police in 1973 and served for 35 years, becoming a Master State Trooper. He was one month away from retirement when he answered the fateful call Thursday that claimed his life.
Stopping to help what appeared to be a stranded motorist on the side of I-85, Walker encountered a man in a black sedan who opened fire on the officer for unknown reasons. Walker was hit multiple times and died after being rushed to VCU Medical Center in Richmond.
The suspect, identified as Russell Ervin Brown III, 28, of Chesterfield, will be tried for the death penalty, prosecutors say.
Walker’s death, the first in 20 years involving a State Trooper in an armed confrontation, came as shock to fellow officers, and as a stark reminder of the dangers that police face every day.
State Police Sgt. Jeff Lane of Halifax, contacted yesterday at his home in town, worked side-by-side with Walker for several years when both men were assigned to the Richmond division of the State Police back in the 1980s.
“He was a good man — there’s no question about that,” Lane said. “He was a big guy, a bear of a man, big in stature with a big heart. I don’t think he ever met a stranger.”
Lane said he always called Walker by his first name, Junius, although most people referred to him simply as “J. A.” Walker, he said, was an icon in the Dinwiddie community, where he lived and served for many years after leaving the Richmond area.
“This is just such a sad situation because he was only one month from retirement. He had planned to retire in April,” Lane said.
Walker was 63. His funeral will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Petersburg, with a private burial later that day. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, two daughters living near the Richmond area, and a son who lives in Sweden. He also is survived by his mother, Mary Louise Hardy Walker of Lawrenceville, and seven siblings, all living in Virginia, including three in Lawrenceville.
He is mourned by State Police across Virginia, many of whom came in contact with Walker during his career.
“Master Trooper Walker was a highly-respected and long-time veteran of our Department, which has made his shocking death especially hard on the Virginia State Police family,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “For 35 years he served us proud as a mentor to multitudes of new troopers, as a valued partner and colleague to his fellow Area 7 troopers, and as a true friend and protector of the Dinwiddie County community. He was and always will be one of Virginia’s Finest.”
Walker is the 59th Virginia State Trooper to die in the line of duty in the department’s 81 year history. The last officer to die on duty was Trooper Andrew D. Fox on Oct. 5, 2012, in Hanover County, when he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic.
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