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Memorial service honors three officers who died in 2023

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Memorial service honors three officers who died in 2023

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May 22—Just after noon Wednesday, Charlene Ashe and her two young daughters pressed small slips of paper against a newly chiseled name on a stone memorial honoring fallen police officers from around the state. They rubbed yellow sidewalk chalk across the paper, making copies of the indentation.

The name that appeared was Anthony Dale Ferguson — an officer with the Alamogordo Police Department, Ashe’s best friend and the father of her children, who was killed in the line of duty in July.

Ferguson was “an amazing man who gave everything,” Ashe said.

He was one of three fallen officers who was honored during a ceremony in the courtyard of New Mexico’s Law Enforcement Academy in Santa Fe.

Ferguson was shot and killed while chasing a man on foot in Alamogordo on July 15. Police have said the man turned around and fired upon Ferguson during the chase.

The man, Dominic De La O, 27, faces a charge of first-degree murder, with a trial scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, the community of Alamogordo has been wracked with grief, Ashe said, adding she became close friends with Ferguson after they both started work at the Alamogordo Police Department in 2011.

Ferguson helped Ashe and her wife, Ashley Rahn-Ashe, give birth their two little girls, she said, and he helped to raise the girls as their father.

Ferguson’s daughters, Remi Ashe, 7, and Paxtyn Ashe, 8, wore T-shirts that matched their mothers’, with pictures of Ferguson on the front and a message on the back: “And we know you are with the angels, right where you belong. ‘Cause you were one to us, you left a legacy of love.”

“He was just an overall great person,” Ashe said. “Any time there was a lemonade stand or a kid selling chocolate, he would buy them out and bring it all back to the department.”

Ferguson’s father, Danny Ferguson, traveled from his home in Nevada to attend the ceremony honoring his son. He sat in the front row, wearing a vest identifying him as Vietnam War veteran.

“He was an officer for 11 years and he loved it,” his father said, adding his family was “devastated.”

A tent was filled with hundreds for the ceremony, with the crowd largely composed of law enforcement officers, families of officers and state Department of Public Safety employees. Lt. Gov. Howie Morales delivered a proclamation; the attendees included New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis and 2nd Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman.

Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Jason Bowie said some officers had traveled from out of state — from as far as the New York Police Department — to pay homage to New Mexico’s fallen officers. Bowie noted how each officer’s death in the line of duty impacts their community.

“National Police Week and ceremonies like today serve as powerful reminders of the extraordinary sacrifices made by our law enforcement officers,” Bowie said. “We honor and pay tribute to our heroes: men and women who dedicate their lives to serving their communities.”

The three officers who were honored during the ceremony — and whose names were added to the memorial wall — were Ferguson, former Alamogordo Officer James Sides and Curry County Sheriff Michael Reeves.

All three died in 2023. With the addition of their names, the memorial wall contains the names 220 officers who have died on duty in New Mexico going back more than 100 years.

Sides died on Aug. 14 from a brain injury that stemmed from a gunshot wound he suffered while responding to a crime in 1984, according to an obituary published by Alamogordo Funeral Home.

Reeves was found dead in his Santa Fe hotel room in December while he was in town attending training at the Law Enforcement Academy; the Curry County Sheriff’s Office said no foul play was suspected, according to a news report from ABC 7. He had been elected sheriff in 2022 and spent more than 40 years working in law enforcement at multiple New Mexico agencies.

This year has already seen two New Mexico officers die in the line of duty. Las Cruces police Officer Jonah Hernandez was stabbed and killed in February, while state police Officer Justin Hare was shot and killed in March near Tucumcari while trying to help a stranded driver with a flat tire.

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