Remembering America's Heroes: Police Officers Who Passed Away in January 2020


Those who choose to go into law enforcement know the amount of sacrifice that their career choice may require, yet they do it any way.

Here are some of the heroes who gave their lives to protect their communities in January 2020.

Investigator Ryan D. Fortini

Investigator Ryan Fortini, 42, passed away on Jan. 1 after suffering from 9/11-related cancer.

He assisted with the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to WABC.

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He served with the New York State Police for over 15 years before he retired in 2015 due to his cancer. He was survived by his fiancée, parents, brother and sister.

Public Safety Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler

After pulling a car over for a traffic stop on Florence Airport property in South Carolina on Jan. 5, Florence Airport Public Safety Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler was shot and killed by a man in the car.

A suspect was later caught and has since been charged with murder, according to WLTX.

“Officer Jackson Winkeler brought so much joy to our work family,” Florence Airport director Connie Anderson said in a statement. “His contagious laughter and infectious personality had the ability to brighten a room when walking in the door and he will forever impact those of us here at the Florence Regional Airport who had the pleasure of working with him.”

Officer Paul Dunn

Officer Paul Dunn, 50, died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash on his way to work on Jan. 9, according to the Lakeland Police Department. He is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and a stepdaughter.

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Dunn had served with the Lakeland Police Department since 2013. He was also a Marine Corps veteran.

Officer Nicholas Reyna

Lubbock, Texas Police Department Officer Nicholas Reyna, 27, had only served with the agency for less than a year before he was tragically struck by a vehicle while responding to a car wreck in icy conditions. He died as a result of his injuries on Jan. 11.

Lubbock Fire Rescue Lt. Eric Hill, a paramedic, also died in the accident.

Reyna is survived by his wife, Christina, and their 1-year-old daughter, Catalina.

Weeks after his death, Reyna’s wife was gifted a mortgage-free home through the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s Fallen First Responder Home Program, according to KCBD.

Detective Amber Joy Leist

Detective Amber Joy Leist, 41, was struck by a vehicle on Jan. 12 while she was helping an older woman who had fallen while crossing the street. She died as a result of her injuries.

She had served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in California for 12 years.

“It was heroic for her to go out that way,” her son, Daniel Laney, told KTLA. “I love her for that. She’s always had a kind heart.”

Deputy Jarid Taylor

Bryan County Sheriff’s Deputy Jarid Taylor was responding to an emergency call on Jan. 14 near Durant, Oklahoma, when his vehicle went off the road, according to KXII. He died as a result of his injuries.

He is survived by his two daughters, ages 6 and 5.

Officer Tiffany-Victoria Bilon Enriquez

Officer Tiffany-Victoria Bilon Enriquez died on Jan. 19 as a result of gunshot wounds sustained while responding to a stabbing near Diamond Head State Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii, according to KHON.

Enriquez served with the Honolulu Police Department for seven years and is survived by three children and one grandchild.

Officer Kaulike Kalama

Honolulu Police Department lost two officers on Jan. 19. Officer Kaulike Kalama also died from gunshot wounds sustained at the shooting near Diamond Head.

He is survived by his wife and teenage son, according to KHON.

Deputy Sheriff Sheldon Gordon Whiteman

While assisting in a vehicle pursuit on Jan. 23 in Long County, Georgia, Deputy Sheriff Sheldon Gordon Whiteman died in a vehicle crash, according to WJCL.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.

Officer Katherine Thyne

Newport News Police Department Officer Katherine Thyne, 24, was killed on Jan. 23 after questioning a couple she and her partner suspected were smoking marijuana while seated in a vehicle in a parking lot, according to the Daily Press in Virginia.

The driver allegedly refused to get out of the car, and instead attempted to drive away, which pinned Thyne against the car and a tree.

Thyne was the first Newport News officer killed on duty in over 25 years, and the first woman officer to ever be killed on duty.

Sgt. Steve Pennington, Thyne’s direct supervisor, wrote in a letter to the fallen officer’s 2-year-old daughter, “Your mommy is a hero.”

Major Angelanette Moore

Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail Major Angelanette Moore died while on duty on Jan. 23.

She worked at the correctional facility for two decades before her death.

Officer Alan McCollum

On Jan. 31, 46-year-old Corpus Christi, Texas Police Department Officer Alan McCollum was struck by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop, KRISTV reported. He is survived by his wife and three children.

“Officer McCollum served with the Corpus Christi Police Department for seven-years and was a twenty-one-year highly decorated Veteran of the United States Army,” the department wrote on Facebook. “Officer McCollum was awarded numerous decorations, medals, badges, citations, campaign ribbons; to include being a recipient of the Bronze Star.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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