Fellow law enforcement officers and friends of Trooper Larry G. Hacker remembered him today as a friendly, fair man with a special gift for people
"He had a way about him," said Ritchie County Sheriff Mike Burwell. "He could talk to people and get them to come around to his way of thinking."
Hacker's knack made him the perfect person to mediate a long-running feud between Pullman neighbors Dennis Ferguson and the Langford family. But when the state police officer pulled up to the scene Thursday night, he didn't even get the chance to talk. Hacker, 34, was shot as he approached Ferguson's house. He died early today at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg. Ferguson, 67, has been charged with his murder.
His death shocked many in the local law enforcement community, who knew the man they called Hack as a strong, friendly, family-oriented man with a quick wit.
"He was a real happy-go-lucky kind of guy," said Burwell, who became sheriff four months ago after working as a deputy for 12 years. "He always helped us as much as he could. He's going to be missed."
Beth Belcher, a secretary at the Harrisville state police detachment where Hacker was stationed, said Hacker seemed to enjoy dealing with the public and went out of his way to talk to people. Hacker even seemed to look forward to giving driver's tests, a laborious duty dreaded by most troopers.
"I noticed on driver's day the kids would come in here from the high school with the downest looks on their faces," Belcher said. "He said, 'When you all come back here, I want you to have some smiles on those faces'~~
Dawna Baker, a dispatcher at the St. Marys state police detachment, said Hacker had lots of friends there. He was stationed at the detachment for a short time before being transferred to Harrisville in February.
"He was very open and friendly," Baker said. "He was generous and trusting, a very sweet person." Baker said Hacker was especially warm with the public.
"He seemed to be more interested than most in dealing with people. He never met a stranger. The first time you met Larry, you felt like you knew him," Baker said.