A pair of St. Paul ceremonies Tuesday honored two officers killed 20 years ago.
Officer Ron Ryan Jr. was shot and killed on Aug. 26, 1994, after he responded to a report of someone sleeping in a car in a church parking lot. Officer Tim Jones and his K-9 dog, Laser, were shot and killed later that same day by the man who shot Ryan as they searched for Ryan’s killer.
“It always makes you feel good that people still remember,” Ron Ryan Sr., a retired St. Paul police officer, said Tuesday, after he and his wife, Kelly, had attended a special mass at Sacred Heart Church.
The Rev. Eugene Michel told those in attendance that the service was to reflect on “the tragedy that occurred here on this property.”
“We believe that Tim and Ron are with God,” Michel said.
Kelly Ryan hugged people as they entered the sanctuary. About 100 friends, family members and other officers attended the mass. Among them were several current and past St. Paul police personnel such as Metro Transit Police Chief and former St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.
“For me, it’s important to be here to remember,” Harrington said.
Officer Kevin Clarkin, who grew up on St. Paul’s East Side, said he remembers when the shootings happened. Clarkin, who had yet to join the department, said he was out washing his car when he saw helicopters fly overhead. It wasn’t until he turned on his TV that he found out what happened.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years,” said Clarkin, who made it to the mass on his day off.
Later in the morning, at the St. Paul police headquarters, officers and family members, along with other guests such as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and retired St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney gathered for a brief ceremony to honor the officers.
“Twenty years ago was one of the darkest days in the history of the city of St. Paul,” said current St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith.
“I don’t think anybody would argue that fact. It was a day that we lost two of our own.”
Ron Ryan Sr. said that Tuesday was going to be a long day for him and his family. Sometimes it feels like his son has been gone “forever.” Sometimes, he said, it feels “like yesterday.”