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Tribute paid to police officers who gave lives to protect public


It was brutally hot in Lansdowne that July afternoon in 1977 when a young man on PCP amassed a small arsenal of weapons in his home and started shooting up the neighborhood with a high-powered rifle.

Hours later, one Baltimore County police officer, Charles Huckeba, lay dead and another, John Stem, was critically wounded. The 19-year-old gunman, Albert Fessenden, was killed by a police sniper.

Paralyzed after the shooting, Stem was awarded the department's Medal of Honor for his courage during the siege; he died last year.

Huckeba and Stem were among those memorialized yesterday at Courthouse Plaza in Towson during the county's 23rd annual ceremony in honor of officers whose deaths were duty-related or in service to the county.

"We gather today with another officer's name engraved on the memorial, John Stem," Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan told a crowd of about 200 people.

"John Stem died last year as the result of action on July 6, 1977, when a guy smoking PCP gathered 10 weapons around him and started shooting," Sheridan said.

A number of county and state officials attended the solemn service held in front of a granite memorial bearing the names of the six officers who died in service to the county or, as in Stem's case, from injuries suffered while on their assignments.

Six wreaths were laid in honor of each officer. The others were:

Officer Edward Kuznar, killed in December 1969 when his patrol car was struck head-on by another vehicle that crossed a road in Kingsville. The police car was then hit by a truck.

Cpl. Samuel L. Snyder, fatally wounded in August 1983 by a gunman outside Bel-Loc Diner, at Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue.

Officer Robert W. Zimmerman, struck and killed by several vehicles in the 600 block of Edmondson Ave. in November 1986.

Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero, shot and killed Feb. 7 last year during an armed robbery at J. Brown Jewelers in Pikesville, where he worked as a security guard.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said the ceremony was important so that residents could be reminded of the daily sacrifices made by police officers.

"Sometimes, we take our police officers for granted," he said.

While surviving family members of the six honored officers clutched single roses, the department chaplain, the Rev. Harry Schill, spoke.

"We pause to remember and support the families," Schill said. "But it is important to remember the fallen and their stories. For when the stories die the identities fade and die. We are what we remember."

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