York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson, all 6 feet, 3 inches, walked tall into a room to tell everyone at a news conference Tuesday that four officers had been shot in an ambush. His face was intense. His eyes downcast. But he did not yield to emotions.
York Police Chief Andy Robinson also walked into the news conference at Moss Justice Center in York. There was no smile. To the side stood a police lieutenant, who has put killers in prison and been shot at three times. He had red eyes from crying. A sergeant who had been with one of the shooting victims two weeks ago was visibly sad. But Tuesday, he did his job.
The reality of cops being shot returned to York County. The four officers responded to a domestic violence call -- a woman assaulted. Then they were shot. “Ambushed,” Tolson said.
The wounded officers are not faceless guys, attacked apparently because of their uniform and badge and protecting people who call for help. They are Randy Clinton, Mike Doty, Kyle Cummings and Buddy Brown.
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“Police are a brotherhood, and we all hurt when our brothers are shot,” said Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, who was shot several years ago when making an arrest. “We do a job that most people will not do. A job people don’t want to do. But we do it. Every one of us hurts today after these brave officers were shot.”
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Kyle Cummings had worked for Underwood before moving to York Police Department. Underwood said Cummings also served in combat in Afghanistan.
He now serves in York under Lt. Dale Edwards. Edwards walked into the Moss Justice Center in York on Tuesday with hurt in his eyes.
“Police officers are family,” Edwards said later. “We eat together and we serve together and we bleed together.”
Edwards and Underwood both said police officers are human beings who have families, kids, spouses, homes and dreams.
“You go to church, a police officer sits down next to you, same as anybody,” Edwards said.
One wounded officer, a sheriff’s office detective and York County drug unit member, Mike Doty is “very critical” and “hanging on to life,” Tolson said.
The others all had surgery for their wounds.
“We are just devastated,” Tolson said. “We all feel as though we were attacked.”
He meant every deputy, every officer at the several departments who responded to the crime scene, and search and hospital in Charlotte. No officer has been killed in the line of duty in York County since 1992 when deputy James Brent McCants was ambushed and fatally shot.
“Nobody understands how it could get to this point,” Tolson said. “This attack on police has been going on for years. And now it is right here.”
Tolson said the support from the community has been “overwhelming.” He thanked the public for all the well wishes.
The drug unit supervisor, Marvin Brown, was at the hospital along with dozens of other cops all day. Brown and many other police were there for Doty, Brown, Cummings and Clinton.
Those officers have been there for the public, said Brown and Tolson and Edwards and York Police Chief Andy Robinson.
Clinton has been a police officer for 34 years. He started at the jail. He’s been York County’s senior K-9 dog handler for more than two decades. Last year Clinton found the body near Rock Hill of an Uber driver from Charlotte. It led to murder arrests. Clinton said he does his job because the Uber driver’s daughter was crying for her daddy -- who was dead.
“It was pitiful and sad, her having to cry over her missing daddy,” Clinton said in 2017.
Now the families of Clinton, Doty, Cummings and Brown have to cry. And so do the brotherhood of police officers.