CALLAHAN, Fla. – In an emotional ceremony Wednesday the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office added two names to its memorial wall, honoring those who gave their lives serving the community.
Both men’s families attended the service and were escorted to their seats by Sheriff Bill Leeper.
“I prayed that no names were ever added. When we do have to add one it’s devastating to our agency,” Leeper said.
The service began with an opening prayer acknowledging the loss of both deputies.
“It’s tragic and it’s sad but they died doing what they love to do,” Leeper said.
Outside the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office stands the law enforcement memorial honoring the officers and deputies who gave their lives serving the community. Just feet away, more than 600 American flags representing the officers who died across the United States last year. Leeper said it’s a powerful reminder.
“When you see it visually, you can really say, ‘Wow, it’s a lot of people,” Leeper said.
Leeper said the last several years have been especially emotional. Since he was sworn in as Nassau County sheriff in 2013, three of his deputies have died in the line of duty.
It started with the untimely death of Deputy Eric Oliver, who was killed after being hit by a car during a foot chase in 2016. The man who ran from Oliver was sentenced last October to 12 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter.
Oliver’s family also attended Wednesday’s ceremony to offer support.
And last year, there were the deaths of Gwynes and Moyers, who was 28 years old. For Leeper, Moyers’ death is an especially heartbreaking reminder of the risk these law enforcement officers face.
“Deputy Moyers, he attended this ceremony before in the past,” Leeper said. “You never expect your name to go up on that wall, but there’s always that possibility in the jobs we do.”
Moyers’ passing is still surreal for colleague and longtime friend Sgt. Trevor Zittrower. Ever since Moyers’ death, Zittrower carries his No. 1205 badge everywhere.
“We became friends probably when we both got out of high school. We actually met at the same church,” Zittrower said. “Never would I have thought in a million years that I would see his name on the wall.”
The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute, playing of “Taps,” “Amazing Grace” and with a closing prayer.
Leeper pays tribute in his own way daily, wearing a wristband with all three deputies’ names, ID numbers, and their end of watch dates.
“I pray to God that no other names go on that wall,” Leeper said. “We want to make sure that they’re never forgotten as well and they’re always a part of our family.”
Moyers and Gwynes will have their names added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC next week.
Leeper said while his department still struggles, particularly with Moyers’ death, they’re pushing on. They aim to make him proud every day.
“We have a job to do. We’re going to continue doing that because that’s what our community wants us to do,” Leeper said. “And that’s what Josh would want us to do.”