MERRIMACK, N.H. (CBS/AP) — More than 1,200 students and 200 staff listened Monday as Merrimack High School principal Ken Johnson held a moment of silence for a fallen Virginia police officer who graduated from the school in 2005.
On her first day on the job, 28-year-old Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon responded to a domestic disturbance call at a northern Virginia home.
Police said Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Hamilton opened fire as she arrived at his door, killing her and wounding two other officers. Police said Hamilton had killed his wife prior to the officers arriving.
“Ashley’s now the sixth member of the class of 2005 who has passed, and I just think that that is far too much,” Johnson said.
Guindon was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the family later moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire. A floweral cross was left by her family’s home on Monday.
She leaves behind her mother and grandmother.
“For us, the story is intensely local, and far more personal,” Johnson said over the school’s intercom, before asking students and staff to join him in a moment of silence.
Instead of throwing their hats at graduation, students at Merrimack High throws beach balls–and each class has it’s own message. The beach ball for the class of 2005 carries the message “forever young.”
“That beach ball carries a lot of meaning when you think of Ashley, because she is indeed forever young–only 28 years old.
The flag outside the Merrimack Police Department was lowered to half-mast in remembrance of Guindon. Merrimack Police had to tell Guindon’s family of her passing.
“It leaves a hole in everyone’s heart and the fact that this was an individual of our community, makes it all the more difficult for us to reconcile,” Merrimack Police Department Chief Mark Doyle said Sunday.
Her yearbook quote was almost prophetic: “Live for something rather than die for nothing.”
“Ashely’s story…brings pride to the school because she was trying to serve and protect the community,” says former school advisor Amy Larkin-Perez.”
Guindon’s uncle works for West Springfield Police near where she was born.
“This is what police officers do every single day so you can go about your business and everybody can live and be safe,” says West Springfield Police Chief Ronald Campurciani.
Guindon, a former Marine Corps reservist with a master’s degree in forensic science, had been sworn in on Friday, which the department marked with a celebratory tweet.
“We were struck by her passion to do this job,” Prince William Police Chief Stephan Hudson said. “She couldn’t get it out of her blood. She clearly had a passion to serve others in a way that went beyond herself.”
The two other officers injured in the shooting, officers Jesse Hempen, 31, and David McKeown, 33, are expected to survive.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said he would likely seek the death penalty against Hamilton, who was held without bond on charges including capital murder, first-degree murder and malicious wounding.
Hamilton also was held without bail following his arraignment on Monday.
Doyle and eight other Merrimack police officers will be traveling to Virginia to attend Guindon’s services on Tuesday.
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