BRENTWOOD — Nearly 50 police officers, community members and family of fallen Brentwood police officer Stephen Arkell gathered Wednesday to mark the seventh anniversary of his shooting death and to remember others killed in the line of duty during National Police Week.
At an afternoon ceremony at Tonry Cemetery, a wreath was put on Arkell’s grave along with a thin blue line police flag placed by Brentwood Girl Scout Sophie Morrow from Troop 51211.
Flags were also displayed on the graves of other police officers, although Arkell is the only officer buried in the cemetery known to have died while on duty.
The 48-year-old Arkell lived in town and was a longtime Brentwood officer when he was killed May 12, 2014, after he responded to a home to investigate a report of a verbal domestic dispute.
Arkell was ambushed by gunman Michael Nolan, 47, when he arrived at the residence after neighbors reported an argument between Nolan and his elderly father. Nolan later set fire to the home, which exploded in a blast that was captured on live TV by a news helicopter. Authorities later determined that Nolan, who was found dead, died of an apparent suicide.
Arkell’s wife, Heather, was given a vase of flowers by Brentwood officer Josh Turner, who was a close friend of her late husband.
“It’s nice to still feel the support and see so many people come out,” she said after the ceremony.
Arkell’s daughter Kim, who graduated from Exeter High School weeks after his death, also attended and spoke about how she’s following in her father’s footsteps by coaching girls junior varsity lacrosse at the school.
Arkell had coached Exeter’s girls lacrosse team for years.
“I kind of connect with him almost through it. It makes me feel closer to him and I really enjoy coaching. I coach club lacrosse as well and I just enjoy it,” she said.
Following his death, Turner helped organize the “Officer Stephen Arkell Community 5k” to benefit the Stephen Arkell Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to Exeter High School students.
The event ended two years ago because organizers planned to hold it for five years, but the fund will provide scholarships for years to come.
“Like the famous saying, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ it does. It’s always present, but it does get easier as time goes on. I think having events like today and having the scholarship that we give out helps ease some of the sorrow that you have. It’s a sad time of the year for us because we lost Steve, but we look back at the seven years and Steve just continues to give back to us in all these other relationships that we’ve developed with everybody in the community,” Turner said.
Brentwood Police Chief Dan Wicks, who wasn’t working for the town when Arkell was killed, spoke about how National Police Week is a time to recognize the ultimate sacrifice.
“As a grateful community, we must not forget these men and women who stood the thin blue line,” he said.
According to Wicks, 124 officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2021.
“They are faces, not numbers. These are men and women who will no longer return home to their loved ones, no longer enjoy family gatherings, no longer tuck their child into bed at night,” he said.