Memorial honors fallen Bibb deputies

The lobby of the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center is more sacred these days.

Monday, the sheriff’s office mounted plaques in honor of the seven Bibb County deputies killed in the department’s history.

Three of the fallen died in the last four years.

A dedication for the memorial is scheduled for June 30 at 11 a.m. for family members of the deputies.

A large plaque above the seven memorial plaques reads: “In Memoriam: The Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputies recognized on this wall have given their last full measure of devotion, dedication, and service to the citizens of Bibb County, GA. Their sacrifice will be remembered and honored as long as anyone serves.”

The most recent fallen deputy is Michael Sean Thomas, who died May 25, 2008, in a traffic accident while he was on duty.

By placing the memorial in the front lobby, Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said everyone who visits the LEC would be able to see the price deputies paid to keep residents safe.

“It’s recognizing what has been given to the community by Bibb County deputies,” Modena said.

The sheriff said his office is looking for more information about the deputies killed in the 1800s and early 1900s.

“We’re actually doing some research right now to contact some of those families,” said Sean Defoe, the public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

The first Bibb County deputy killed in the line of duty was Ben Wilder in May 1892. A 15-year-old shot Wilder in the head after Wilder arrested him for stealing, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a Web site that compiles information on slain law enforcement officers.

The boy was hanged for killing Wilder on Nov. 30, 1892.

The second deputy killed was Leland F. Williams on Aug. 11, 1918. He was shot after responding to complaints about a craps game, according to a 1918 Macon Telegraph article. The news story called him “one of the best known men and most highly esteemed officers for Bibb County.”

He was 40 years old at the time of his death.

Walter C. Byrd was killed July 29, 1922, outside of a pool room. He went there to find John “Cocky” Glover.

Before heading out to find Glover, Walter was informed that he was “armed and that he had liquor on him,” according to a July 30, 1922, article in the Macon Daily Telegraph.

As Byrd exited the pool room toward Wall Street alley, Glover slipped out behind him and shot Byrd, hitting him on the first shot.

On Aug. 1, 1922, deputies found Glover and a lynch mob killed him.

Harry “Tubby” Green was killed after chasing after a rum runner May 15, 1925. During the pursuit, shots were fired at Green’s vehicle, according to a story in the Macon Daily Telegraph.

After pulling over, Green was shot and killed. His body was dumped into the Ocumulgee River swamps, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Green had only been a deputy for a short period of time. Several individuals confessed to committing the crime.

Joseph Tim Whitehead Jr. was the first deputy killed since the early 1900s. His death marked the start of a string of deputy deaths in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

On March 23, 2006, while serving a no knock warrant as a member of the Bibb County Drug Squad, Whitehead was shot. Despite having body armor on, Whitehead was fatally wounded by a bullet to his face.

Two men are awaiting trial.

Chad Norman McDonald failed to yield to oncoming traffic and received critical head injuries in the accident that eventually killed him Dec. 21, 2007.

In a statement released after the event, Modena said, “Our officers travel over two million miles a year in the course of their patrols throughout Bibb County. This accident serves as a reminder that tragedy can strike anybody at any time and that every driver should be mindful of traffic conditions as they travel.”

Writer Eric Newcomer can be reached at 744-4494.