Bruce A. Prothero, Jamie A. Roussey and Kevon M. Gavin never knew one another, but their families are forever linked.
All three men were police officers killed in the line of duty. Yesterday, their families came together at the site where they were laid to rest. They shared their grief and tried to help each other cope with incidents they say sometimes seem surreal.
The families were among an estimated 1,000 people who gathered at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Timonium for the 15th annual Fallen Heroes Day ceremony.
"It seems like forever since I saw him. But the event itself seems like yesterday," said Ann Prothero, whose husband, Baltimore County Sgt. Bruce Prothero, 35, died Feb. 7, when he was shot during a robbery at a Pikesville jewelry store, where he worked a second job as a security guard. Ann Prothero has five young children.
Also honored yesterday was Fallston volunteer firefighter Roy K. Crago, 65, who was seriously injured when the firetruck he was driving crashed Dec. 7. He died three days later.
At the ceremony, family members of the fallen officers greeted one another and introduced relatives.
"I can remember praying for your family," Rick Prothero, Bruce's older brother, said to Fred Roussey.
Roussey's son Jamie, 22, a rookie Baltimore City police officer, was killed in a traffic accident March 8 while rushing to the aid of another officer. "When it happened in the city, it was just like a repeat for us," Prothero said.
"The insanity has to stop," said Fred Roussey, a city police sergeant. "Here are the people we were praying for, and now they are praying for us."
Kevon Gavin, 27, a six-year veteran of the Baltimore police force, was killed April 21 when a Ford Bronco being chased by police crashed into his cruiser in West Baltimore.
Lisa Gavin, the officer's widow, said she received calls right away from the Prothero and Roussey families. Lisa Gavin has three young children.
"You know my heart truly went out to [the Prothero and Roussey families] when their deaths occurred. On the other hand, I never thought Kevon would be in that situation," Gavin said yesterday. "They inspired me to be a little stronger."
Yesterday's 90-minute ceremony began with a procession by 30 honor guards from across the state, who marched to the cemetery's Fallen Heroes memorial. Speeches from a number of dignitaries followed.
In 1976, 330 plots were set aside at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens for police officers and firefighters -- and their spouses -- who died in the line of duty. Thirty-one members of the public service community are buried there. Their names are inscribed on a bronze wall.
Among the speakers were state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and state police Superintendent Col. David B. Mitchell.
"We can never repay the debt we incurred," O'Malley said. "Good young men should not have to die in pursuit of justice."