Colleagues and family remember fallen officers 10 years later - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Colleagues and family remember fallen officers 10 years later

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The officers were killed when ambushed by gunfire during a call in 2004. The officers were killed when ambushed by gunfire during a call in 2004.

A solemn Thursday ceremony marked a tragic day for local law enforcement ten years ago.

On Jan. 2 2004, Athens Police Officer Tony Mims and Sergeant Larry Russell were killed in the line of duty. A man shot and killed the officers with an assault rifle while they responded to a call.

One of their colleagues was current Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson. He said every day a new recruit applies, he makes sure to ask if their family is okay with them becoming a police officer. The reason, he said, is because of what happened ten years ago.

Russell was on the Athens force for 19 years; Mims had been with the department for 15. Investigators said the officers were lured to the home by Farron Barksdale, who was waiting with the high-powered weapon. Mims had not yet made it out of his patrol car when he was struck; Russell was shot while he was getting out.

Thursday's ceremony was organized by the Mims-Russell AMVETS Post 21 in honor of the fallen officers. Chief Johnson trained Sgt. Russell and knew both officers well.

"It was an extremely hard time on our department and a hard time on our personnel. It was one of those situations you don't ever want to go back through again. But, you know, every day the reality is around the corner; it could be the day," the chief recalled.

Former mayor and current State Representative Dan Williams said it was the worst day in his 18 years as mayor.

"They had Larry in the emergency room and it was very obvious he wasn't going to make it. And I looked for Tony; I thought they'd be working on him. I went out to the ambulance driver and said, 'Where's Tony?' He said he was out at the scene; he didn't live through the shooting," Williams said.

Linda Mims, Tony's wife, remembered the last phone call she had with her husband.

"I was able to tell him that I loved him. Had a nice, pleasant conversation with him. It was the last time that I talked with him. About an hour later, my daughter called me at work and told me that she had heard on the news where two officers had been shot," Linda recalled.

"I'm thankful that I did get to talk to him, and did get to tell him I loved him. I'm thankful that's the last thing I got to say to him," she said.

Mims and Russell are two of the six Athens Police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

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