County lawman added to national memorial
By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on June 23, 2010 1:46 PM
The last time a Wayne County officer died in the line of duty was 2002, but a more historical figure was the last person to be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial this year in Washington, D.C.
Sheriff John Coor Pender was shot and killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Jan. 1, 1816.
Pender's teenaged son tracked the suspect to the Florida Everglades, according to the "Officer Down Memorial Page," a non-profit group that lists officers killed in the line of duty.
Pender's name was added to the national memorial this year, Wayne County Sheriff's Office Maj. Ray Smith said.
Now that Pender's name has been added, one more historical Wayne County authority is still waiting for his name to be added to the memorial.
Pikeville Township Constable Zeb B. Lancaster was fatally shot while trying to arrest a man involved in a domestic dispute on June 10, 1900, according to an issue of Goldsboro Daily Argus.
It was a long road to recognition for Lancaster, whose death went undiscovered until Wayne County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Craig Edwins and a Pikeville librarian Lisa Stevens stumbled across his record while doing historical research.
The June 11 Goldsboro Daily Argus reported that Lancaster arrested a man named Wesley White at a saw mill on a domestic violence allegation.
The newspaper reported White escaped from Lancaster and went back to work at the saw mill, and when Lancaster tried to arrest him again, White shot him with a pistol while hiding behind a boiler at the mill.
The constable's name was added to the local law enforcement memorial at Wayne Community College in 2009.
Pender, who was added to the local memorial earlier, was recently recognized at the national level, along with 323 other law enforcement officers from around the country, 116 of whom died in 2009, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Sgt. Ron Coulter, the Sheriff's Office Honor Guard coordinator, described this year's event.
Coulter said honor guards play a symbolic role in honoring the U.S. president, who is among the traditional speakers at the yearly event.
"First of all, it's a big honor," Coulter said. "The main events that we get involved in are the candlelight vigil -- this year, (U.S. Attorney General) Eric Holder spoke there. (Later) ... the Honor Guard forms a gauntlet on the Capital steps for the president."
Lenoir County was represented well, Coulter said, as they lost Deputy Allan Pearson in an alleged April 2009 shootout with Douglas Phillips, 43, who had also allegedly killed his girlfriend, Cynthia Tillett Knighten, 49.
The active and retired police officers who participated then toured Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments, Coulter said.
Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said he always uses the ceremony to reflect on the loss of his friend, Capt. Jerry Best.
Best -- who died in 2002, after being hit by a car while removing a deer carcass from N.C. 581 -- was Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders' primary focus.
The sheriff said hardly a day passes when he doesn't think of Best, who was also commemorated with the naming of a bridge in June 2005 by the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.
Then-Vice Chairman Atlas Price, Jr., moved to name the U.S. 117 bridge over U.S. 70 West in Best's honor, and commissioners voted unanimously to approve the dedication.
Those honored at the memorial include:
*Best, who died Nov. 13, 2002, while removing a deer carcass struck by another person's vehicle on N.C. 581;
*N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Martin, of Mount Olive, who died July 21, 1988, from injuries sustained in a head-on collision with a truck. Martin was pursuing a fleeing motorist near Reidsville;
*Fremont Police Chief Walter B. Braswell, fatally shot on Nov. 13, 1965, with his own service weapon. Braswell was attempting to arrest a man in a domestic dispute, having been called out of retirement to serve as chief;
*Goldsboro police Officer Water J. Rouse, fatally shot on Feb. 27, 1968, while trying to arrest a suspect in the robbery of a Holiday Inn;
*Goldsboro police Lt. C. Frank Faircloth, who died Sept. 19, 1960, in a car crash while pursuing a suspected "bootlegger" on Stevens Mill Road;
*Goldboro police Officer Herbert C. Wiegand, killed March 9, 1940, while responding to a domestic dispute, and
*Highway Patrol Trooper I.T. Moore, who died on Jun 18, 1937, of gunshot wounds he sustained while questioning two suspects about the theft of 500 pounds of meat.
Thoroughfare Fire Chief H. Sidney Jones, Arrington Fire Lt. Robby Blizzard and rescue personnel Kenneth Davis and James Hickman are also listed at the memorial.