2 CPD officers killed 20 years ago - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

2 CPD officers killed 20 years ago

Cincinnati Police Officer Dan Pope and Specialist Ron Jeter. (Photo: City of Cincinnati Twitter account) Cincinnati Police Officer Dan Pope and Specialist Ron Jeter. (Photo: City of Cincinnati Twitter account)
Officer Dan Pope's widow, Linda Pope, returned to Cincinnati earlier this year to speak at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony on Fountain Square. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker) Officer Dan Pope's widow, Linda Pope, returned to Cincinnati earlier this year to speak at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony on Fountain Square. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker)
Cincinnati Police Lt. Christopher Ruehmer paying tribute to his fallen best friend, Officer Dan Pope, at the Police Memorial across the street from District 1 headquarters in the West End. (Photo: Provided) Cincinnati Police Lt. Christopher Ruehmer paying tribute to his fallen best friend, Officer Dan Pope, at the Police Memorial across the street from District 1 headquarters in the West End. (Photo: Provided)
Several of Officer Dan Pope's co-workers served as pallbearers at his funeral at St. Peters in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati in December 1997. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer file) Several of Officer Dan Pope's co-workers served as pallbearers at his funeral at St. Peters in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati in December 1997. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer file)
CLIFTON HEIGHTS, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati police paid tribute Tuesday to two colleagues gunned down in the line of duty 20 years ago.

Officer Daniel Pope, 35, and Specialist Ron Jeter, 34, were each shot in the back of the head just before midnight Dec. 5, 1997 as they tried to apprehend a domestic violence suspect. Their dates of death are Dec. 6, 1997.

"We will never let the legacy of two American heroes ever fade way. Both officers died doing what they did best, upholding the law," said former Cincinnati police officer Brian Ibold, now a Green Township police sergeant.

Ibold and his former partner, Cincinnati Police Specialist Tim Campbell organized "A Celebration of Life" at Holy Grail Tavern and Grill Tuesday.

"They were the best of the best and will be remembered forever," Ibold said. "We all are indebted for the their service. We are sure God welcomed them both with open arms. Our friends will never be forgotten."

Jeter's relatives attended, and Pope's widow, who could not make it, wrote a letter read aloud by FOP President Sgt. Dan Hils that thanked her husband's former colleagues for remembering both men and honoring their legacies.

Pope and Jeter went to an apartment on West Hollister Street just before midnight Dec. 5 to try to arrest Alonzo Davenport, 20.

Both officers were members of a Christmas robbery task force. They were dressed in plainclothes and wore bulletproof vests.

Davenport became violent and a struggle ensued.

He shot both officers so fast, neither had a chance to draw their weapons.

Pope died almost instantly.

Jeter would linger a few more hours before succumbing to his injuries shortly after both men were taken to the hospital.

"That was a hard one. I can remember being in bed and getting a phone call. Communications said, 'I'm thinking one officer and we got two,"recalled  former FOP President Pete Ridder.

After the shootings, Davenport ran off.

Ibold and Campbell, who were working undercover at a McDonald's off McMillan Avenue, spotted him.

They thought Davenport was acting suspicious and began to follow him, not realizing he'd just killed two officers.

A dispatcher failed to get help when she received a call two officers were shot.

When Davenport reached the corner of Calhoun Street and Jefferson Avenue, he turned the gun on himself and took his own life in a triangle area of grass.

District 4 Sgt. Christopher Ruehmer responded to the suicide.

He also didn't know that the man lying dead before him had just killed two officers, one of whom was his best friend and neighbor.

Ruehmer met Pope in the Cincinnati Police Academy in the early 1990s.

They were always lined up next to each together according to their last names.

P before R.

They bonded during the rigorous weeks as they trained and prepared to protect and serve Cincinnati.

The two men would became as close as brothers.

 They purchased property near each other in Harrison, where they built their homes on the same street.

They dined together with their wives and other first responders at least weekly.

They vacationed together and walked in and out of each other's homes without knocking.

On many nights, Ruehmer was working at the same time as Pope. 

But Ruehmer's mind was not on his best friend as he stood in the frigid air early Dec. 6, 1997, securing the suicide scene.

Ruehmer was there about a half hour when a man who lived on Hollister Street walked up.

He told Ruehmer that Davenport had just been involved in a domestic violence situation on Hollister and shots were fired.

Concerned someone might be hurt back on Hollister, Ruehmer immediately took the man and three other officers there.

The man pointed to the house where he said shots were fired.

The door stood open.

It had a bullet hole from an incident that occurred a few days earlier.

The house was dark except for the flickering light from a television on inside.

Police announced themselves and went in to check for possible assault or shooting victims.

Ruehmer found furniture turned over in the living room and police equipment strewn on the floor: handcuffs, a flashlight.

Then he saw Pope and Jeter down on the floor.

He went to his best friend to try to help him, but it was immediately clear there was nothing he could do to save him.

Jeter was still alive, but barely.

Ambulances were summoned.

Pope's wife, Linda, worked for the Cincinnati Fire Department at the time.

She was a firefighter, and she was on duty.

Her boss drove her from a fire station to the hospital.

She arrived desperate for word on her husband.

Ruehmer was waiting for her in the emergency room.

He pulled her into a side room.

Both were overcome with emotion.

Even if there were words to say, neither could get them out.

All they could do was embrace.

Pope and Jeter's slayings rocked the city.

More than 1,200 people turned out for Pope's funeral.

Hundreds boarded buses in Cincinnati to travel to Jeter's funeral in Columbus.

Jeter was a Cincinnati officer nearly 5 years and served with the United States Marine Corps.

He was survived by his mother, elementary school-age daughter and girlfriend. 

He loved weightlifting and was extremely physically fit.

Pope was an officer for 6 years.

He was a Cincinnati native and from a law enforcement family.

He and his wife would have celebrated their seventh anniversary the week he died.

His death galvanized Linda Pope to devote her life to helping widows and families of other slain officers across the nation.

She was the keynote speaker at this year's Police Memorial Week event on Fountain Square in May. 

"As time marches forward, it doesn't really heal your heart. But it just gives you the opportunity to learn to live with the emptiness and all of the what-ifs," she said in an address before rows and rows of her husband's former colleagues.

"I don't think you ever really fully become whole again, but you become something new. A new normal. A new life. A different life. But I look at my life as a gift. And I want to live life again. And I want to be happy."

After her speech, Linda Pope joined officers and their relatives for a march through the streets of downtown Cincinnati.

They walked up into the West End, where another ceremony was held at the Police Memorial in front of District 1 headquarters.

As she proceeded on Central Parkway approaching District 1, one of the many officers in uniform, now a lieutenant, patiently waited for her.

He drove down from District 4 and situation himself by the parade to pay his respects as it passed.

Then, he saw her.

Both were overcome with emotion.

Even if there were words to say, neither could get them out.

All they could do was embrace.

Over the past 20 years, Ruehmer has thought about his best friend every day he goes to work.

He kept a box filled with sympathy cards and letters from the community, newspaper clippings of the incident. 

He never went through the box until earlier this year, just before Linda Pope returned to town, when we asked him for an interview.

"I just couldn't, at the time it happened, bring myself to look at it," Ruehmer said.

"So when I finally did look in the box, there were a lot of cards and letters from people I didn't even know, people who didn't even know Dan or I, that took the time to write.

"It's almost like a time capsule. I learned some things, things came floating back. I was touched that they took the time to write."

The box also held some of Dan Pope's belongings that were cleaned out his locker after he was gone.

A stocking cap, the case he kept his ticket book in.

"Twenty years later, it's just amazing how much that stuff means to me," Ruehmer said.

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