Community marks 10-year anniversary of IMPD Officer Jake Laird’s death

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 18, 2014)-- The 10-year anniversary of the on-duty shooting death of Indianapolis Police Officer Timothy "Jake" Laird was marked by symbolism and a touching tribute.

Shortly before a 1:30 p.m. ceremony Monday, officers removed safety cones from a reflective blue line that now runs directly in front of the department's Southeast District Headquarters.

"The line can be attacked, it can be hit, it can be spit on and it can be cursed," said Southeast District Commander John Conley. "But it will never be broken."

Minutes later, there was a special surprise for Officer Laird's mother, Debbie. When she was instructed to pull a rope attached to a covered street sign, she unveiled two new street signs on each side of the short street in front of Southeast District Headquarters.

The newly hung signs each said "Officer Jake Laird Memorial Way." She had no idea the department had been planning to rename the street in honor of her son.

"I obviously wish we didn't have to name a street after him," Debbie Laird said. "But what a nice tribute. It just shows the support that this whole community provides our family."

Debbie's husband Mike echoed the sentiment.

"They have a unity that you can not believe," said Mike Laird. "They always stay in contact with us, they always check on us. And I think the biggest thing for me has been that."

Officer Laird's daughter Kaylee was only 7-years-old when she lost her dad. Now 17, she says this time of year is always difficult.

"Ten years ago today, I lost my dad," she said. "And we were really close when I was little... and I just miss him a lot."

Officer Jake Laird died in the early morning hours of August 18, 2004. He and several other officers responded to 911 calls about shots being fired in the 2700 block of Dietz Street on the near south side of Indianapolis. Multiple officers became involved in a shootout with Kenneth Anderson, who was mentally ill and armed with a high-powered rifle.

Laird was killed when a high velocity round tore through the car door he was taking cover behind and fatally wounded the four-year patrol veteran.

Sergent Ty Van Wagner survived the shootout, and was back to work the next day. He says Laird's actions saved his life.

"When Jake was killed was when I was running out to grab the civilian in the roadway," Van Wagner said. "And it was Jake's movements in opening up the car door that drew the attention of the shooter. And that allowed me an opportunity to run out and get that gentleman. And had it not been for Jake, I probably would have been killed that night."

Detective Andrew Troxell was shot in the arm during the shootout. His young son is currently raising money to pay for protective vest plates for officers.

"We're out here to help the community," Troxell said. "It doesn't matter if we get injured. As long as we can keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep doing it."

In the wake of Laird's death, state lawmakers passed "Jake's Law." It gives police more power to seize and keep weapons from the mentally ill.