December 09, 2009
Ten years ago today I would end up receiving tragic news. Tenny Gatewood Jr., a friend of my family and police officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, had been shot and killed while attempting to arrest burglary suspects. He had gotten a call of a break-in at a store and ended up chasing down a car with the folks suspected of breaking in and stealing beer, a father and son. He attempted to arrest the father, which led to a struggle, the father called to his son for help, the son came out to help. The struggle escalated, and the son got a hold of Tenny's gun and shot him in the head with it. He would later die at the hospital. The two suspects were found, charged with murder, and eventually went to prison.
For me I first got wind that something had happened when my mom called and said the main road was blocked because a cop had been shot and they were looking for the suspects. Don't ask me how I knew it, but in the back of my mind, I knew the cop was Tenny. An hour later the phone would ring again, and my father would come downstairs to confirm my worst fear, it was Tenny, and he was dead.
Ten years, it's hard to believe it's been that long now. It feels like it could have been yesterday, even if I was in a much different place when it all went down. Hell, I was still in high school when this happened. I still get choked up a bit thinking about the funeral that would occur a few days later. It really is one of the saddest things to watch a funeral for a cop, hopefully you never have to go through something like that.
I wonder how his family is these days. This day has to be especially difficult for them, but I hope wherever they are now that they are at least happy the other 364 days of the year, and that they have the strength to make it through today.
The one thing I still have yet to understand (and I probably never will) is why this took place. I know that there is a very widely held belief that God does everything for a reason, but the reason to take Tenny away escapes me. He was a good man who worked very hard to take care of his family, and was one of the nicest people in the world. Even if he tried to play scary dad with me when I took his daughter out, he knew I was going to respect him and I was going to respect his daughter, and so we got along well. Why God would allow him to be murdered, I don't get it.
I stopped by the Law Officers Memorial tonight in DC to pay tribute. It's harsh to know that I personally know someone whose name is carved into the wall there.
Rest In Peace Tenny, You're not forgotten.