Fallen Clay County deputies honored

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - They gave the ultimate sacrifice, and Thursday the Clay County community remembered deputies who died on the job.

Detective David White is one of the fallen the Clay County Sheriff's Office honored during a memorial service as part of Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Week.

White was shot and killed during a raid of a drug house in Middleburg in February 2012. Investigators said a man in the home shot White and another detective, Matt Hanlin, who survived.

Deputies said another deputy then shot and killed the shooter, Ted Tilley. The case is still ongoing. Four other people inside the drug home are charged in White's death.

White, 35, was a military veteran and served with the Clay County Sheriff's Office for nine years. He left behind his wife, Jennifer, who was also his high school sweetheart, and their two children.

"It really shocked the innocence of Clay County and sort of awakened the community that we are not exempt from the tragedies that we see around the country involving law enforcement," Sheriff Rick Beseler said.

White grew up in Clay County. His death is something many people in the community felt.

"He was just a great guy," Beseler said. "Everybody loved him. They called him a regular guy."

Since 1894, the Sheriff's Office has had four men die from gunfire while on duty.

White in 2012, Sheriff Theodore Cherry in 1913, Sheriff Charles Wilson in 1906 and Sheriff Joseph Peeler in 1894.

Joanne Matthews is Peeler's great granddaughter. This was her first time coming to the memorial in Clay County.

"I think it's important to continue to honor these men because they give so much for very little reward," Matthews said.

The memorial ceremony recognized surviving family members, had music by the Clay County Sheriff's Office Pipe and Drum Corps, as well as a a 21-gun salute and the ceremonial last call.

According to records, nearly 800 officers in Florida have lost their lives in the line of duty. The No. 1 cause of death is by gunfire.

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