Hundreds at Vigil Honor Slain Fireman


 
 

Leah Thorsen | | Wednesday, July 23, 2008


MAPLEWOOD, Mo. -- When Casey Coulter went into labor a year ago, it was the Maplewood Fire Department that got her to the hospital to deliver her son, Carlos.

On Tuesday evening, baby Carlos, his mom and grandmother were among the hundreds who gathered to honor a member of that fire department, Ryan Hummert, at Junior High Park.

"We appreciate the fire department and the police department and all they do here in Maplewood," said Sharon Coulter, as she held her grandson.

Hummert, 22, was shot and killed in an ambush early Monday as he battled a pickup fire in the 7400 block of Zephyr Place.

The gunman also shot two Maplewood police officers - Adam Fite was critically wounded and Sgt. Michael Martin was shot in the right shoulder.

Several hours before the vigil began, authorities found what is believed to be the body of the gunman, 52-year-old Mark Knobbe, and a rifle in his charred house across the street from where the pickup had burned. Police believe he set his home on fire after the shootings.

Hummert had been on the job for little more than three months when he was killed in the line of duty.

He was the son of former Maplewood Mayor Andrew Hummert, who served from 1983 to 1993, and his wife, Jackie.

Both attended Tuesday's vigil, which included several prayers and poems, some read by their son's fellow firefighters, as well as three minutes of silence. As the sun set, the crowd lit candles and sang "Amazing Grace."

"We live together, we play together and now we grieve together," Fire Chief Terry Merrell said of the bonds firefighters share.

He and Mayor Mark Langston pledged their support and love to the Hummert family, who stood in front of the crowd that had gathered about a block from where the shooting occurred.

Said Langston, as he gestured to the masses of people: "I think we've said I love you in more ways than one tonight."




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