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Slain Officers Honored in Local Memorial

Police chiefs at the vigil Saturday include, L-R in front: Laurel Park. Chief Bobbie Trotter, BRCC Police Chief Daran Dodd, and new Hendersonville Chief Blair Myhand. Blair’s wife Nana Myhand is behind him.

Hendersonville Slain law officers were honored late last week for their valor and ultimate sacrifice, starting with the dedication of Henderson County’s Law Enforcement Center last Friday in honor of Ryan Hendrix.

Deputy Hendrix, among three officers cornering a suspect in a pickup truck, was fatally shot on Sept. 10, 2020 by Robert Ray Doss, Jr. — after Doss faked surrender. The other two deputies then shot Doss. Hendrix, a Marine vet and local native, was age 34. He had two young children.

The LEC on Friday morning was officially dedicated as the “Deputy Ryan P. Hendrix Law Enforcement Center.”

Hendrix and other officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 — 362 in all nationwide — were honored in a candlelight memorial service the next (Saturday) evening on Peace Officers Memorial Day. Ceremonial highlights included a bagpiper, “Taps” bugler, Honor Guard procession, then lighting 362 candles on the Hendrix LEC steps lit as dusk set in.

Eleven pairs of duty boots were displayed, to symbolize slain officers. Children’s shoes beside them represented mourning families. Sheriff Griffin emphasized the “devastating effect on children who grow up without that (slain officer) parent.”

The ceremonies on successive days were held outside Hendrix LEC, at 100 N. Grove Street near the main courthouse. The center mainly houses the Sheriff’s Office; also the SBI, U.S. marshall, and area narcotics task force, Sheriff Lowell Griffin noted.

Ryan Hendrix Lauded

Sheriff Griffin said at the dedication that Ryan Hendrix “loved us all — co-workers and the public he protected. Griffin said at the memorial that Hendrix epitomized those “willing to sacrifice everything.” The sheriff understands how officers’ families tend to be “on pins and needles” over the job’s risks, and he thanked them.

A wide-scale drug bust in Henderson County went on during the dedication Friday. Sheriff Griffin said he named it Operation Wave Rider, after one of avid surfer Ryan Hendrix’s online aliases. “Ryan’s spirit is alongside his teammates, when they’re kicking doors and taking names” in drug raids.

Hendrix’s parents, Don Hendrix and Heidi Scholz Hendrix, were special guests Friday. Don Hendrix said Ryan was “fearless,” and “ran to danger — so we could be free and safe.” Don said Ryan strove to be the “very best in everything he did” including sports. “He had a servant’s heart,” and was the “ultimate sheepdog” protector.

State Sen. Chuck Edwards presented them with a flag flown last 9/11 at the state capitol in Raleigh. Sen. Edwards, a Republican, noted sentiment of too many lawmakers is “stacking up against law enforcement.”

Each Henderson County com missioner and County Mgr. Steve Wyatt spoke at the dedication. Vice-Chr. Rebecca McCall said “I sleep well knowing I am protected by these men and women.” Chr. Bill Lapsley is “deeply grateful for these protective servants.” Daniel Andreotta and David Hill each cited Hendrix’s “ultimate sacrifice.” Longtime Commissioner Mike Edney calls the Hendrix LEC a “monument” to Ryan Hendrix and others, with their “living history” of brave service.

State Sen. Chuck Edwards consoles Don Hendrix after presenting him a flag flown in Raleigh on last 9/11. Between them is Don’s wife Heidi. Their late son Deputy Ryan Hendrix had Henderson County’s Law Enforcement Center named after him Friday. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
State Sen. Chuck Edwards consoles Don Hendrix after presenting him a flag flown in Raleigh on last 9/11. Between them is Don’s wife Heidi. Their late son Deputy Ryan Hendrix had Henderson County’s Law Enforcement Center named after him Friday. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Police Chiefs’ Praise 

The local chiefs appreciate their domains within Henderson County. “This community is phenomenal,” new Hendersonville Police Chief Chief Myhand told the Tribune.

He co-hosted the memorial Saturday with Sheriff Griffin, after Blair and Nana Myhand enjoyed a meal in Never Blue in downtown Hendersonville. The Myhands said they were stunned and overjoyed when a man paid for their meals, saying it was in gratitude for the new chief’s service.

The stranger’s generosity amplifies how there is much stronger support for law enforcement locally than in most communities nationwide, Chief Myhand said. He said when he was the police chief in Clayton, N.C., he was torpedoed by an adversarial anti-police politician. Myhand has been Hendersonville’s police chief for three months.

Other police chiefs who spoke to a crowd of about 75 people were Laurel Park’s Bobbie Trotter, new Fletcher Police Chief Dan Terry, and Daran Dodd who heads Blue Ridge Community College’s police force.

Chief Myhand led off chiefs’ speeches. He compared the resilient officer to a sturdy oak. “When winds howls and rain pours, we stand firm” in the face of danger. He lauded the “ultimate sacrifice” of slain officers. “Let their sacrifice be for a purpose greater than us all.”

Myhand closed by assuring accountability. He said officers have a “responsibility” to be “moderate and restrained” in handling crisis calls. Myhand set an organizational meeting for a Citizen Advisory Group on Monday, May 24th at 6 p.m. in Hendersonville Middle School at 825 N. Whitted St.

Sheriff Griffin on Saturday jabbed at local governments eqager to “defund” police. He said most Henderson County “people here haven’t lost their minds” — and instead strongly support law enforcement. Chief Trotter observed “our country is in the midst of a great divide” over law enforcement.

Fletcher Police Chief Terry described the tougher climate for officers, in which protestors and politicians “attack them verbally, emotionally, and even financially” — via police defunding and cutbacks.

Chief Terry has been Fletcher’s police chief since April 5, for a month and a half. He was previously Sheriff Griffin’s lieutenant overseeing the Division of Professional Responsibility. Terry said when violent tragedy strikes an officer, it also grips fellow officers mourning “a friend who died in their arms.” He noted that during 9/11 terrorist attacks, while civilians fled the scene in NYC various “first responders ran toward danger.”

Laurel Park Chief Trotter said officers are drawn by duty over “our cool gear and cool (high performance patrol) cars. We love our communities, and we love the cause.”

BRCC Chief Dodd said though “crime still thrives” and “our work is undone,” officers help immensely. They “protect our safety, and defend our freedoms.” He lauded “our fallen heroes.”

Hendersonville Police HQ has a plaque honoring Dennie Quay Enevold. He was fatally shot in 1981, when he was 33. A suspect snatched Enevold’s gun as they tussled, and shot him. Buncombe County deputy fatalities include Sgt. Jeff Hewitt killed in 2004, Dodd noted. Recently, two Watauga deputies died in a 13-hour standoff with a gunman on April 28.

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