The Gulf Coast Brotherhood Ride spent the night in Vicksburg and left early Friday morning for Monroe, Louisiana.
The Gulf Coast Brotherhood Ride is an effort by law enforcement and other first responders to raise awareness and money for the families of fallen first responders. Every year they ride through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. This year the 5-day 425-mile ride started in Hoover, Alabama, then up to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, over to Meridian, Mississippi and then to Vicksburg. On Friday they set out on the final leg of their journey to Monroe, Louisiana.
Each year since 2018 they have honored first responders who died in the line of duty or as a result of injuries sustained while in service. They use the event as a fundraiser, you can donate here. This year those remembered and honored are:
Lt. Stephen Williams
– Lieutenant Stephen Paul Williams of the Moody Police Department. End of Watch June 2, 2020. Lt. Williams was shot and killed while responding to a call for service.
Officer Nicholas O’Rear
– Officer Nicholas Daniel O’Rear, Kimberly Police Department. End of Watch February 5, 2020. Officer O’Rear was shot and killed during a vehicle pursuit.
Officer Randy Smith
– Officer Randall Versie Smith, Birmingham Police Department. End of Watch December 28, 2020. Officer Randall Smith died as the result of complications of an inadvertent gunshot wound suffered on March 25th, 1995.
Sgt. WyTasha Lamar Carter
– Sergeant WyTasha Lamar Carter, Birmingham Police Department. End of Watch January 13, 2019. Sergeant WyTasha Carter was shot and killed as he and another officer attempted to arrest two men
Investigator Dornell Cousette
– Investigator Dornell Cousette, Tuscaloosa Police Department. End of Watch September 16, 2019. Investigator Dornell Cousette was shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant.
Firefighter Eric Gustafson
– Firefighter Eric Charles Gustafson, Meridian Fire Department. End of Watch September 9, 2016. Firefighter Gustafson died while answering an emergency call.
Trooper John Harris
– Trooper John Martin Harris, Mississippi Highway Patrol. End of Watch May 28, 2012. Trooper John Harris was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer.
Officer Marshall Waters
– Officer Marshall Lee Waters, Jr, Mangham Police Department. End of Watch November 5, 2020. Police Officer Marshall Waters succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained on October 17th, 2020, while conducting a traffic stop. Waters also served as a firefighter and EMS.
Deputy Sheriff Justin Beard
– Deputy Sheriff Justin Levi Beard, Ouachita Sheriff’s Office. End of Watch April 30, 2017. Deputy Sheriff Justin Beard was killed in a vehicle crash while responding to an alarm call.
Officer Ayrian Williams
– Officer Ayrian Michelle Williams, Monroe Police Department. End of Watch May 21, 21018. Police Officer Ayrian Williams was killed in a vehicle crash while responding to assist another police officer.
If you would like to donate to the families of these fallen first responders, click here. Any amount is accepted and appreciated.
Welcome to Vicksburg, have some Walnut Hills
The crew pulled into town Thursday night and was welcomed by the Holy Trinity Church. They then were treated to dinner at Walnut Hills. Owner Joyce Clingan along with John and Alicia Allain Schneider covered the cost of the meal for the 40 or so first responders. The Blues Experience treated them to some down-home sounds. The mood was jovial as Sheriff Martin Pace joined the first responders welcoming them to Warren County. After dinner, some of the riders and support crew went to 10 South to enjoy the view while others went to the Chopping Block to bury the hatchet.
On Friday morning the crew met at First Baptist Church for a breakfast cooked by the church. The crew was still bragging about how good the meal was at Walnut Hills Thursday night and how much they like Vicksburg. There were also some good-natured jokes about how accurate one of the wives was while throwing a hatchet at the Chopping Block. All of the guests went out of their way to thank the First Baptist crew and compliment the Vicksburg organizers. Attorney Ricky Johnson was instrumental in organizing the breakfast at First Baptist while Winky Freeman worked the grill.
One of the group leaders, Louis Linn with the Kenner Police Department, talked about how supportive everyone has been. “Alabama provided us an escort from the beginning. We got to the Mississippi State line and the Highway Patrol immediately picked us up. When we enter Louisiana they will be waiting there to support us on the final leg of the journey. I can’t say enough good things about how supportive everyone has been.” In his New Orleans accent, Linn continued, “Vicksburg has been great. It is a beautiful city and everyone has welcomed us. And man, that meal at Walnut Hills last night!”
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