Honoring Our Fallen Heroes
“The killing of a police officer has a ripple effect across the nation, even the world. It’s like the wave at a ballgame but you can’t see it if you aren’t at the game. Every law enforcement family in the world is at the game daily, each officer who falls represents one less person in the stadium. The stadium seems smaller each time. Spouses, children and parents breathe a heavy sigh, a sigh filled with grief for the profession and the fallen. A sigh hiding a smaller one that thinks “Thank God it wasn’t mine this time.” Karen Rodwill Solomon, Hearts Beneath the Badge
Sgt. Patrick Sondron and Deputy Daryl Smallwood responded to call in Byron on November 6, 2016. It would be their last. It started as a routine call -- an argument between neighbors on a warm November Sunday afternoon. It ended in tragedy.
Two young people were riding ATVs on a roadway when they were confronted by a neighbor who threatened them with a firearm. The riders left the area and called 911 to report the incident. Sergeant Sondron and Deputy Smallwood responded to their residence and interviewed them.
After speaking to the ATV riders. the depuies drove to the suspect's home. As Sergeant Sondron and Deputy Smallwood exited their patrol cars and began to walk down the driveway towards the home they were both shot. The original victims witnessed the shooting and again called 911 to report both deputies had been shot.
Sgt. Sondron was pronounced dead at the Medical Center of Peach County later that day and Deputy Smallwood died from his injuries Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Medical Center-Navicent Health in Macon.
Sgt. Sondron was a U.S Air Force veteran and had served with the Peach County Sheriffs Office for 13 years. He had previously served with the Fort Valley Department and Byron Police Department. He was a survived by his wife, and three children. Deputy Smallwood was a U.S Marine Corps veteran and was survived by his wife, and three children.
Sheriff Terry Deese says the hardest thing hehas ever done was face the media the night his deputies were fatally shot.
“There’s just no way one individual — doesn’t matter how big you are, how strong you are, how smart you are — can deal with that kind of pressure, that kind of stress. But when you turn around and there’s all these people behind you ... that’s how you deal with tragedies,” "That is what this brotherhood is all about. This is about the profession we chose. We weren't drafted, we aren't in it for the money."
Their memory lingers in the halls of the sheriff’s office and throughout the community.