Violence against police evokes painful memories for Coast woman

Violence against police evokes painful memories for Coast woman

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - When officers come under attack, it strikes at the heart of families whose loved ones put on the uniform and badge every day.

A Jackson County woman is still hurting 26 years after her dad was shot and killed in the line of duty.

"Immediately I saw my father laying on the ground. You relive all of that," said Karla Owens.

Painful memories came flooding back as Owens watched violence erupt in Dallas Thursday night.

"It's scary. It's very scary," said Owens.

Anger, loss, sorrow were emotions she felt when her dad, park ranger Robert McGhee, was gunned down by two prison escapees during a traffic stop at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs in 1990.

"Just talking to you right now, I could feel the pain that I felt that morning. Time has allowed me to be able to sit here and talk to you about it. Time has not healed the hurt," said Owens.

That's why Owens feels for other families of law enforcement officers every time an officer is shot or killed.

"Now, when I watch the news and I see a tragedy happen, and I start thinking about the victim, the victim's family, wanting to reach out to them to let them know it has happened to other families. They're not alone," said Owens.

Owens says it's upsetting to read strong opinions on social media.

"People making comments like they don't trust the police, they don't trust white people. It hurts. Just don't make comments unless you've walked in our shoes," Owens said.

When she hears about violence against officers, she worries about their safety. That's because her husband, James Owens, Jr., is on the Biloxi police force.

"Every morning when he leaves, I don't know if he's coming home, because he might come up on someone that is bad and shoots him," noted Owens.

Owens says one way to combat fear and hate is to teach children tolerance, trust, and prayer.

"I just feel like God needs to be more with us, with the human race, because right now, we're all so divided and it's so sad," said Owens.

Shortly after Robert McGhee was killed, the state legislature passed a bill that allows for the death penalty in cases when federal officers are murdered.

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