AUBURN — Julia Reinhard of Hamilton gathered with her husband, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren outside Auburn City Hall Wednesday afternoon, tolerating the searing heat in order to honor not only her nephew, but all fallen police officers and heroes of public safety.
Reinhard’s grandchildren, Bo Reinhard, 6, and DaisyMay Reinhard, 4, both of Auburn, stood ready to pass out homemade cookies to participants in the Cops Cycling for Survivors annual ride around the state as it rolled into Auburn. The annual ride honors fallen police officers and raises money for their families.
Reinhard’s nephew, Jason M. Baker, was killed in the line of duty in 2001 while serving as a member of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.
“Our nephew, since the age of 6, wanted to be a police officer just like his daddy,” Reinhard said.
“He made that dream come true. He was with the sheriff’s department in Indianapolis.”
On the day of his death in 2001, Baker had pulled over a car for a suspected license plate violation and the car took off. Baker pursued the car and called for back-up, Reinhard said.
Four young men were in the car, armed with AK-47 rifles, Reinhard added.
“Jason’s car took 25 hits and one of them killed Jason. Jason was 24 years old and it was a very, very sad incident for our whole family, but it was amazing, the support of all the police officers in the area and in the state who came to honor him and support my brother,” she said.
Since Baker’s death, his father and Reinhard’s brother, retired police officer Jerry Baker, have organized the Jason M. Baker Beyond the Badge 5K run to honor all fallen heroes and raise scholarship money for young people going into public safety. To date, the event has raised about $700,000 for scholarships.
Retired Angola Police Detective Tim Crooks shared Baker’s story during Wednesday’s rest stop and memorial service.
Crooks said that one of the suspects in Baker’s death was shot and killed the next day after exchanging shots with officers for eight hours. The other three suspects were apprehended and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The shooter was sentenced to an additional 100 years, and the man who provided the weapon was sentenced to 40 years in prison, Crooks said.
Wednesday’s ceremony also honored Fort Wayne Police Department patrolman Kenneth Stiverson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1969 at the age of 36.
On their way into downtown Auburn, riders stopped at Roselawn Cemetery to pay their respects to Indiana State Police trooper Don Turner, who was killed while helping a tow truck operator on an icy highway south of Auburn in 1956. Members of Turner’s family attended Wednesday’s ceremony and greeted riders.
The 13-day bicycle ride around Indiana kicked off on Monday and will cover nearly 1,000 miles. After their stop in Auburn, riders headed for Angola, where they would spend the night before today’s journey that will end in South Bend and Mishawaka, with a lunch stop in Middlebury. The ride is scheduled to conclude the afternoon of Saturday, July 20, at Crown Hill Cemetery, Heroes of Public Safety Section, in Indianapolis.