Fallen Clay County detective remembered 1 year later

David White died in meth lab raid

Detective David White
Detective David White

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A Clay County detective killed a year ago Saturday was remembered at a special event Friday in Green Cove Springs.

Detective David White was shot and killed in a meth lab raid at a Middleburg home.

Deputies said Ted Tilley used a stolen gun to shoot White and Detective Matt Hanlin. Hanlin survived and has returned to the the force.

"It's just really important that we recognize the sacrifice and remember that there's a family out there, not only his family, but his Sheriff's Office family that still hurts," Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said.

White was a father, husband and well-respected law enforcement officer in Clay County. The loss of the detective still weighs heavily on his department and the community.

"Our family has also been blessed by so many wonderful new friends, and Dave's friends especially," said White's widow, Jennifer White, who was given a medal of honor. "You've embraced our family and you've been such a support to all of us. I continue to be touched that you have stuck with us and you've helped us so much. I know this is not the case with other agencies, and I am just so thankful for you guys. These are just some of the beautiful friends that are being woven into our story and into Dave's story."

At Friday's ceremony, three scholarships were announced in David White's name -- at the college level, at Middleburg High School, and a training scholarship. After the ceremony, deputies broke ground on a new memorial to honor all the fallen heroes who have died while on the force.

"I think that in talking about, you know, the agency itself and all of us as members, I think No. 1 we hope and pray it never ever ever happens again, but are there lessons learned?" Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Mary Justino said. "Certainly are there things that we've discovered along this path that should this ever happen again, God forbid, we may be better equipped to handle and to cope."

LOOK BACK: Final salute for a hero

"David was killed in the line of duty, but Matt Hanlin was wounded with a gunshot, and the other team members also have psychological wounds that may not show but they're still very raw and right below the surface because they lost one of their team members and one of good friends," Beseler said.

While honoring the fallen hero and his family Friday afternoon, White's colleagues with him the night he died also received medals of honor.

As the time passes, the wounds begin to heal, but the pain is still so real.

"I don't know that it ever gets easier," Justino said. "I can't say that on behalf of my co-workers it gets easier. I don't think it does."

Also Friday afternoon, the department broke ground on the Clay County Law Enforcement Memorial, which will be built in front of the Sheriff's Office Headquarters.