JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Jackson County Sheriff's Department held its annual police memorial observance Thursday afternoon. Among the officers remembered was a park ranger who was shot to death 25 years ago.
Karla Owens says it seems like it was yesterday. It was her father, Robert McGhee, who was gunned down while on duty inside Gulf Islands National Seashore.
"Today, we remember those fallen officers," said Sheriff Mike Ezell. "And you know, we pray for those families, and we just seek guidance from above."
"Officers who put their lives on the line, daily, for their communities," said Mickey Powell, with the sheriff's office. "Officers stand in the gap, on a daily basis, to protect and serve citizens all across this country."
It was a Saturday, Memorial Day weekend of 1990 when McGhee was shot to death at Gulf Islands National Seashore Park in Ocean Springs. Two Florida prison escapees killed him after they were pulled over for a routine traffic stop.
"It seems like it was yesterday," said Owens. "I was told that my father had been shot and murdered in the park. The park where he served people and protected people."
Owens and her daughter joined Jackson County law enforcers as they paused to remember the fallen officers.
"You know, it's a sad day in Mississippi for what's just happened in Hattiesburg. You know, we're all a close family here of police officers, deputy sheriffs, park rangers, federal officers," said Ezell.
"We serve in a world that has become violent and defend against those who live lawless, and still remain professional at all times," said Powell, as those gathered bowed their heads near McGhee's grave site.
"Even though my kids didn't really know him, they do know him through picture books and stories. Because he was very much the Ozzie and Harriet family. We did everything as a family," said Owens.
"Our people support us here, and we do our best to take good care of 'em," said Ezell. "Continue to remember the folks that need us and get out here and do our job."