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Okaloosa Deputy Bill Myers Remembered In Solemn Ceremony

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

  Officers from more than sixty law enforcement agencies across the Gulf Coast joined Florida Governor Rick Scott and a host of other state and local dignitaries and members of the public at a Memorial service Monday at Northwest Florida State College’s Raider Arena in Niceville for Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Myers. 

In the packed arena, Myers’ flag-draped coffin, with two officers by its side, was flanked by large photos of him. Myers was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, September 22. He died several hours after being shot by an individual whom he had just served a domestic violence injunction.

During the service, Rev. Ray Angerman, a long time friend of Myers said last Tuesday morning was a pretty normal day for most people in Okaloosa County, including Officer Myers, who was just doing his job in the quiet city of Shalimar, Bill suffered no illusions that morning. He put on his bullet proof vest as he did every morning. Like all of you officers, every time you put on the uniform you put yourself in harm’s way. At 2:14 Tuesday afternoon the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, their world was flipped upside down. That’s how Sheriff Ashley described the moment Dep. Myers died.”

Within the crowd sat local law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics. In addition, numerous regional agencies from Florida and throughout the Southeast were in attendance as well including some forty Honor Guard members from the Miami Dade Police Department.

Several state officials were in attendance to honor Deputy Myers including Governor Rick Scott, U.S. Representative Jeff Miller, State Attorney Bill Eddins and Attorney General Pam Bondi. Governor Scott was a guest speaker at the nearly two hour service, “Deputy Myers touched thousands of lives by his lifetime of service and bravery. Deputy Myers was a defender of his community and wore his badge with honor and courage. He also took great pride in his family, especially his seven grandchildren.”

The U.S. Honor Flag was also on display at the event. The Flag travels around the United States to distinguish America’s first responders and military heroes. The U.S. Honor Flag has flown over Ground Zero after September 11th and has been aboard Atlantis, the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program. The last time the Flag was in Okaloosa County was in 2009 to honor OCSO Deputies Skip York and Burt Lopez who were also killed in the line of duty while attempting to take  a domestic violence suspect into custody near Crestview. 

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley spoke of the attack on Deputy Myers as an attack on everyone and our laws. Ashley says Myers should be remembered because he represented them on “The Thin Blue Line,” “He served us on this line. He stood between us and evil on this line. He provided us with peace on our side of this line. It’s because when he was attacked it was an attack on all of us. All whom he represented, it’s an attack on his family, an attack on our community, an attack on our country. It was an attack on our laws and the accountability they demand. Today we memorialize Bill’s sacrifice standing on that line for us.”

Lt. Fred Lithgow said he had known Bill Myers for about 20 years, noting their similarities in personality, having served in the military and having worked for several law enforcement agencies before settling at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. 

With a Mickey Mouse T-shirt lying across the podium, Lithgow talked about his friend’s love of Disney noting that Myers made the trip with his granddaughter and other children as often as possible. Lithgow said Myers loved going so much that on occasion he would even drive down by himself for the day, “I will say the world is a better place because of Bill, and a worse place without him. We his duty family and the community will miss him. His off-duty family will bear the brunt of his void. And, I know the big mouse in Orlando will surely miss his face among the crowd.”

As the Memorial Service came to a close, those in attendance were asked to rise for full ceremonial honors. The flag draping Myers’ coffin was carefully folded and presented to his family. Myers is survived by wife Jan Bivins Myers and sons Shaun Myers, Eric Myers, Adam Brown and their families including seven grandchildren. And, Deputy Myers’ mother watched her son’s service in Illinois via live stream.

Outside the arena, in a driving rain, there was a rifle salute, followed by the playing of taps, and a final radio-check of Myers’ unit number 3-3-4, “Unit 3-3-4, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Myers 10-7/10-42; End of Watch September 22, 2015. Gone, but never forgotten. Rest in peace now brother, we’ve got the watch from here.”

Following the service and despite the rainy conditions, members of the community came out in droves to show their support. Fire departments hung massive American flags from trucks located near the college and close to the foot of Brooks Bridge. Hundreds of people lined portions of the motor vehicle processional that slowly proceeded the more than 16 miles from the college campus to the Ramada Inn on Okaloosa Island for a celebration of life reception for law enforcement officers. 

Citizens stood along the route soaking wet waving American flags, holding homemade signs and saluting as a way of honoring Deputy Myers. All traffic came to a standstill as the procession made its way through the town of Shalimar where Deputy Myers was shot. As the motorcade rolled down the center lane many residents moved closer to the procession and stood on Eglin Parkway itself as a way of paying their final respects to the fallen deputy.

#DeputyMyers procession to #Boardwalk has started. @OCSOALERTS#EMS#Fire & 60 diff agencies from across FL lined up pic.twitter.com/wdshJ4qLhb

— Danielle Freeman (@WUWFDanielle) September 28, 2015

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office memorializes Deputy Bill Myers.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.