It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, but it was in the early morning hours of June 2, 2020, that retired Police Captain David Dorn was murdered when he went to investigate an alarm at a friend’s pawn shop during a night of rioting, looting, and violence in St. Louis.
Dorn was a beloved figure in the St. Louis law enforcement community. As Nick Arama noted at the time:
He served for 38 years. Tim Fitch, the former St. Louis County police chief, praised Dorn as a “true public servant.” His wife, Ann, is a sergeant with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
His son, Brian Powell, praised his father, “The fact that he was protecting and serving, this is the way, I feel in my heart of hearts that he would have liked to leave this earth,” said Dorn’s son, Brian Powell in an interview with KMOV4. He said his father often checked on the pawn shop of his friend.
“It was senseless, it was senseless. Over TVs and stuff that’s replaceable,” Powell said. “They’re forgetting the real message of the protest and the positiveness that’s supposed to come out of it. And we get this negative light shown on a situation that really needs light to be brought to it.”
Powell said his father was beloved by all. […]
Dorn’s family is hopeful the shooter comes forward, but Brian Powell said his father would want them to practice forgiveness.
“My dad wouldn’t be mad, he’d try to give them another chance,” Brian Powell said.
That says everything about Dorn as well as the strength and grace of his family. His life and theirs matter.
Later last summer, I had the opportunity to attend a “March for Peace” hosted by Dorn’s widow, Ann. As I noted at the time, Ann’s remarks following the march served as a reminder of the heartache caused by senseless violence and the need for all of us to work toward peaceful solutions.
Today, Captain Dorn is being honored. A memorial is being held in Forest Park.
Slain police Capt. David Dorn to be honored during memorial in Forest Park today https://t.co/b6bFEd3EFb
— FOX2now (@FOX2now) June 2, 2021
Additionally, a stretch of I-70 between Shreve Road and Kingshighway Boulevard is being renamed in his honor. On a personal note, learning this really struck a chord with me. I drive that stretch of highway almost every day. Over the past year or two, the drive home, particularly later in the evening, has been daunting at times. Most evenings, I’ll encounter multiple cars speeding past at 90-100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic. There have been several shootings along that stretch in recent months. In fact, per the Post Dispatch:
At least 11 people have been hurt or killed in shootings on I-70 in St. Louis since last April. The shooting scenes stretch across 5 miles, from near downtown to Goodfellow Boulevard. Police have said there is no indication any of the shootings were related.
I’m not naive enough to think merely renaming that portion of the highway will improve those conditions but I’d like to think, in some small way perhaps, the spirit of Capt. Dorn will be watching over it.
At a hearing before state lawmakers in March regarding the proposed highway designation, Dorn’s family spoke:
“This is my first public statement since the death of my dad,” Kielen Powell said, while fighting back tears. “My dad not only built bridges culturally, but he built bridges between law enforcement and the community.”
It was a night of emotion as Dorn’s family testified in front of the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice.
“He died doing what he loved, and he died a hero,” Dorn’s wife Ann told lawmakers. “I want his legacy to never be forgotten.”
The proposal to rename that stretch of highway after Dorn was put forth by Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin), who said:
“It’s the very least I think we could do to honor his memory and to show we have Captain Dorn’s back and the back of his family,” Dogan said. “I was just struck when he was murdered.”
Dorn’s son, Brian Powell, spoke at the hearing, as well:
He explained how people across the Midwest know his dad and the hero he was.
“Your dad is a hero, an American hero,” Brian told committee members. “Now just a hero to the community of St. Louis but an American hero.”
But these words from Kielen Powell really touched me:
Kielen said his dad was known for helping people get jobs, getting people out of trouble and putting them on the right path.
“I believe that every time I drive by and see a sign, I’ll look at it and realize I do have big shoes to fill,” Kielen said while holding back tears.
May we all be so inspired.