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Tribute to Fallen Police Officer Destroyed

Tribute to Fallen Police Officer Destroyed

Posted - Sep. 23, 2004 at 8:05 a.m.



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WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) -- Police are trying to find out who chopped down a 15-foot-oak tree planted in honor of a city police officer who died in the line of duty.

Ron Wood's widow, Lourie, found only an 8-inch stump when she visited the city park Tuesday.

Police said someone sawed off the memorial tree late Monday and hauled it away.

The investigation reopens the emotions surrounding the shooting death of a beloved officer.

"That was a bit traumatic for her and it is quite disconcerting for us," said Capt. Gary Cox, one of the small group of officers who planted the tree following Wood's death on Nov. 18, 2002.

The Fraternal Order of Police lodge in West Jordan bought and planted the oak, which was Wood's favorite tree, but did not label it in any way.

Cutting down the tree, which had a diameter of 3 or 4 inches, could be considered criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, Cox said.

Wood, 39, was chasing Justin Van Roekel, who turned and shot Wood in the head with a stolen 9mm handgun.

Van Roekel, 17, then turned the gun on himself when cornered by another officer.

West Jordan also has named a baseball park in Wood's honor.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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