He'll Be Missed
Flags fly at half-staff at the Harrisville state police detachment
|HARRISVILLE - Area residents who knew slain state police Trooper Larry G. Hacker as a policeman and neighbor were stunned by his death Friday.
Hacker was fatally wounded while answering a disturbance call in the Pullman area of Ritchie County late Thursday.
Police charged Ritchie County resident Dennis Ferguson, 67, of Pullman, with ambushing Hacker after he arrived at the scene of a dispute Ferguson and a neighbor were having.
Ferguson, who had allegedly blocked his neighbor's access with a vehicle, was arrested after a shootout in the White Oak community near Pullman.
Hacker, 34, a native of Cedarville, had lived in Harrisville since first assigned here in August 1989 upon
his graduation from the state police academy.
He remained a local resident after being assigned to Pleasants County in June 1992 and had just returned to work at the Harrisville detachment Jan. 31.
The flags were at half-staff at the Harrisville state police detachment headquarters and at area businesses and government buildings throughout the area Friday.
Trudy Collins, an employee at Ritchie Sporting Goods, remembered Hacker from his first arrival in town as someone who often stopped in at a convenience store where she worked.
Hacker would pick up coffee for other officers, including Harrisville detachment commander Sgt. D.S. Deak, Collins said.
"He had a real good personality," Collins said. "We'd exchange a few words about the weather and joke about different things. I'd kid
him about being Sgt. Deak's coffee boy."
Deborah Wyer, manager of Gas-N-Goods on Route 16, saw Hacker as a caring policeman and a friend.
"The whole community was very fond of him," Wyer said. "We're just having a tough time dealing with it around here today."
Wyer said she met Hacker at the store when he first came to town. While working in St. Marys and after he returned to work locally he would stop in, she said.
"Nobody ever had a bad word to say about that man," Wyer said. "In uniform and out-of-uniform he was just a great guy."
Harrisville resident Helen Richards said the thing she remembered best about Hacker was his smile. She said she'd once lived on his street and knew his family. Richards said she would often talk to Hacker about his family and about her interest in the workings of
the state police department. "This hits a little close to home," Richards said. "My ex-husband's a state trooper."
Gas-N-Goods employee Sheila Bali remembered Hacker as a kind and easy-going person and one of the best law enforcement officers in the area.
Hacker would always treat other officers riding with him to a soft drink or coffee when they stopped at the store, Ball said. His favorite soft drink was Yoo-Hoo brand chocolate drink, she said. "Most cops drink either coffee or Pepsi," Ball said. "He always drank Yoo-Hoos. Every day he'd come in and get a Yoo-Hoo. If he didn't come in, it would be, 'Where's he at?"'
Hacker and his wife, Deborah, had two daughters, Erica, 15, and Julia, 10. "The worst thing about it is his daughter's birthday is in two days," Ball said. Erica will turn 16 Sunday.
Beth Beachler, secretary for the Harrisville state police detachment, tearfully remembered Hacker as a thorough police officer, a sports enthusiast and a prolific storyteller. "He always had a story to tell, be it police, hunting or fishing," Beachler said. "He was a very jovial person. He was all the time in a good mood." Hacker had always been involved with local high school extracurricular activities and attended all local high school sporting events, Beachler said.
St. Marys detachment secretary Dawna Baker, who had worked with Hacker at both detachments, remembered him as a kind and trusting person and a good family man. "He'll be sorely missed," Baker said.
Hacker was the first trooper from the Harrisville detachment killed in the line of duty, Beachler said.
The last trooper killed in the line of duty in West Virginia was James T. Brammer, 42, who was shot while serving a traffic warrant in April 1989.
Hacker was a graduate of Gilmer County High School and had been a security guard at Glenvile State College. He had enlisted in the state police in December 1988.