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Family members and first responders filled the plaza outside of the Adams County sheriff's department offices in Brighton Jan. 24 to memorialize one of their own who died five years …
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Family members and first responders filled the plaza outside of the Adams County sheriff's department offices in Brighton Jan. 24 to memorialize one of their own who died five years ago.
"Detective Heath Gumm made the ultimate sacrifice," Adams County Sheriff Gene Claps said at the five-year anniversary memorial ceremony. "It takes a very special individual to perform these duties of law enforcement officer, to answer the calls for helps and stand in harm's way to protect our community. Each year we reflect and grieve the loss of Detective Heath Gumm. Heath's memory lives on and will never be forgotten."
Gumm was 31 in January 2018 when he joined other deputies responding to a report of an assault in progress at about 87th and Dawson in unincorporated Adams County. The deputies searched the area, making contact with a man who fled, leading the chase behind a house in the neighborhood. Gumm was chasing the man, who turned, drew a weapon and fired, striking Gumm in the chest and killing him.
Dreion Dearing, then 22, was later convicted of killing Gumm.
But the 2023 ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the shooting had little to do with the shooting itself. Instead, Sheriff Claps, former Sheriff Mike McIntosh, prosecutor Jess Redman and Gumm's father, Jim, thanked the officer for what he did, extending that gratitude to others police officers and deputies.
"I went through many different thoughts in my mind while trying to come up with this speech, but most of them ended up being sad and depressing. But I knew there would already be too much sadness and too many tears today," Jim Gumm said. "So I started thinking about what Heath would want. He would not everyone being down today. He would want you to fill your thoughts with his memories and happy stories."
Gumm had earned a reputation as a playful prankster and friend, something his father noted.
"He was the smartest person I have ever known and I believe that's what gave him the amazing ability to come up with the most inappropriate comments at the most inappropriate times," Jim Gumm said. "And I'm sure right now that all of you have one of those inappropriate comments in your minds."
The memorial ceremony was bracketed with music, a Tom Petty playlist to open the memorial and the bagpipe dirge of "Amazing Grace" to close it.
Former Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh, now wearing his uniform as a Douglas County chief deputy, said he can no longer listen to one Tom Petty song, "I Won't Back Down," without thinking of Gumm. The song was playing nearly five years ago as the pallbearers carried Gumm's casket into Lafayette church for the former deputy's funeral.
"I can't hear that song anymore without thinking about Heath and thinking about the sacrifice he made and the fact that he didn't back down," McIntosh said. "He went into the face of danger not knowing what the outcome was going to be. He stood his ground and he didn't back down."
The memorial service was also shown live on the Adams County Sheriff's Facebook page.
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