Run/Walk planned to help families of slain cops

CONYERS - The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will host a Run/Walk in Olde Town Conyers on March 22 to benefit the families of slain DeKalb police officers Eric Barker and Ricky Bryant Jr.

The Run/Walk will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Rockdale County Courthouse on Milstead Avenue. The run will follow a 2-mile course through Olde Town and finish back at the courthouse. Lunch and T-shirts will be provided to all registered participants.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said his department holds a motivational run from time to time, and this year his officers wanted to expand on the idea to benefit the officers' families and invite the public to join in the run.

"The death of these two young officers was not only a tragic loss to their families and loved ones, but to the entire public safety community," Wigington said. "We want to host this benefit run/walk to help the families of the fallen officers, as well as let this event serve as a reminder of the danger all public safety personnel are faced with on a daily basis."

RCSO Deputy Jerome Woods organized the first motivational run last year among his fellow officers in the sheriff's office SWAT team. The idea was crafted around similar runs in the U.S. Marine Corps as a way to build camaraderie among officers.

Barker and Bryant were shot and killed on Jan. 16 while working an off-duty, uniformed security detail at an apartment complex in Decatur.

Both officers were patrolling the 176-unit apartment complex when they received a report of a suspicious person on Glenwood Road. When they arrived at the location, they were shot in an ambush by two suspects.

Both men were survived by their wives and each had four children.

Registration fee is $20 for the run and lunch or $15 for lunch only. Entries received by Wednesday will be guaranteed a T-shirt and lunch. Participants are welcome to register on the day of the event, but lunch and T-shirts will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, run organizers said.

All donations made will go directly to the Barker and Bryant families. Sponsors associated with the benefit have help defray operating costs. Sponsors include A&S Canteen, Corey Companies, Farmers and Merchant Bank, Traffic Specialties Inc., TriStar Investigation Inc., Hydraulic Field Services; Risk Management Inc., and Smokin' Hoke Bar-B-Q.

For more information, contact RCSO Sgt. Jodi Shupe or Wanda Wypasek at the sheriff's office at 770-918-6717. Registration forms can be printed from the sheriff's office Web site, www.rockdalesheriff.com or are available at the sheriff's office located at 911 Chambers Drive.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.