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TRIBUTE TO THE FALLEN
SoVaNow.com / March 13, 2013A Virginia State Trooper slain last Thursday on Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie County was laid to rest Tuesday, following a funeral in Petersburg that is drew dignitaries and fellow law enforcement officers from around Virginia and the nation.
Junius Alvin Walker, a native of Lawrenceville, joined the Virginia State Police in 1973 and served for 40 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.
Mecklenburg Sheriff Bobby Hawkins recalled his experiences with Walker in a phone interview just hours after he was laid to rest.
“Junius was a typical member of the state police,” said the Sheriff, a retired State Trooper. “Our paths crossed many times over the years. He was well liked and respected and the bottom line here is that this is going to be a great loss to the state of Virginia and Dinwiddie County.”
“Junius was very intimidating, about 6’5” and 300 pounds,” said Hawkins. “But like most people who know him say, he looked like a grizzly bear but was just a teddy bear at heart. He calmed a lot of situations just by showing up. he had a good demeanor with the people and that’s what you have to have in police work.”
Hawkins said that Walker was a “legend in his own time” and was humbled at the funeral services Tuesday morning.
“Angie and I went to the funeral this morning and it was very heart touching as far as the service and the outpouring from the public and law enforcement,” said Hawkins, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many law enforcement in one place at one time in my career.”
Hawkins said that the hardest part of the day was remembering a conversation he had with Walker about a year ago.
“I saw Junius and I asked him, ‘When are you going to go on and retire’?” said Hawkins. “He said I’m thinking about it.”
Hawkins was at a board meeting for the regional jail when the call came in that a trooper had been shot. Dinwiddie Sheriff told Hawkins that he would let him know who it was and later informed him that it was Walker.
“My heart just dropped when he told me the news,” said Hawkins.
Walker was 63. His funeral was held yesterday 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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