Elona Clark takes the 187-mile trip from Clinton to Charlotte every April. It’s a trip she very much looks forward to, but one she would rather not make.
Clark’s son, Sean, was a police officer killed in the line of duty nine years ago. Saturday, Clark, along with parents and family members of other officers killed in action, gathered to release blue and white balloons as a way of remembering the fallen men and women. The balloons were filled with messages of love and longing for those who have been killed while on duty.
Clark and Glenda Tucker, the mother of Clinton Police Department officer Donald Ray Tucker who was killed in 1991, joined and planned Saturday’s event where balloons were released simultaneously across the nation to honor the men and women who wear blue.
On March 31, 2007, Sean Clark and his partner, Jeff Shelton, responded to a domestic situation call in an apartment complex in Charlotte. At the time, Sean was 34 years old, married with one son and another child on the way. After responding to the situation and preparing to leave the scene, Sean and Jeff were approached by someone not involved in the original situation who pulled out a gun and shot the two men.
Both succumbed to their injuries in a matter of hours.
“Sean and his wife had just purchased a new home,” Clark said. “We spent Christmas there, which was his last Christmas before he was killed.”
Sean and his wife had a young toddler son and were expecting their second child.
“He was so excited about having a baby on the way,” his mother said, fighting back tears.
Clark said that her son’s life isn’t the only life that was affected and matters. With incidents of police brutality and killings filling the news media, the mother of a fallen officer said it’s important to remember that all lives matter.
“I’m not saying that we don’t need the marches, but they need to be done peacefully,” Clark said. “People are putting our officers in these situations where they become scared and respond by shooting. I just can’t believe how people are responding today.”
Tucker, who was 22 years old and a one year veteran of the Clinton Police Department, worked in the narcotics division. As part of an undercover drug operation with a multi-agency task force, Tucker was making his last purchase when he was robbed and murdered.
“My son was killed in a drug deal that went bad,” Glenda Tucker said.
November will mark the 25-year anniversary of Tucker’s death.
COPS, Concerns of Police Survivors, began eight years ago when a mother in Florida started releasing balloons in honor of remembering her son. Saturday, while balloons in the eastern part of the country were released at 3 p.m., balloon releases were held at the same time in Hawaii and the different time zones across the United States.
Both Clark and Tucker’s killers were sentenced to life in prison.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.