Monday, December 8, 1997
Families lean on faith, memories

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

pope
Daniel Pope and his wife Linda, a firefighter
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One day after Cincinnati Police officers Daniel Pope and Ronald Jeter were gunned down, family and friends were gathering to console one another.

Spc. Jeter's 9-year-old daughter will miss her doting father.

Officer Pope's wife, Linda, will miss her soulmate.

When 9-year-old Brittany Jeter talked to her father Wednesday, he was asking for his girl's jeans size, giving away what she would probably find under the tree Christmas morning.

It might have seemed an unremarkable conversation, but it was the last time she would talk to her father, Spc. Jeter.

Spc. Jeter, 34, died early Saturday morning after he was gunned down about midnight Friday. He left three children: Brittany; Kayla Curry-Jeter, 6; and Brandon Jeter, 13.

''He was the greatest dad,'' Brittany said Sunday, her face beaming.

''He was the best father in the world; everything he did he put 100 percent into,'' said Bobbi Burton, Spc. Jeter's former wife and Brittany's mother.

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Ronald Jeter, top right, celebrated with the rest of the 1993 recruit class at their commissioning.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Although the pair had split, Ms. Burton said they still maintained a good relationship. And though most of his family lived in Columbus - including Ms. Burton and Brittany - Spc. Jeter phoned and visited the family regularly.

Many of his family members made the roughly 90-mile trip to Cincinnati this weekend to sort through his belongings and make funeral arrangements. Asked what is keeping her from feeling sad about losing her daddy, Brittany said: ''Just memories.''

Spc. Jeter's mother, Brenda Collier, 53, said a strong ''belief in the Lord'' has helped her since early Saturday. That's when police knocked at the door of her Columbus home, asked her to sit down and told her the most recent news they had - her son had been gravely wounded in a shooting.

''When they told me it was Ron, my heart just fell,'' Ms. Collier said Sunday night. She had raised her son, ''who always had a great attitude,'' in Columbus, where he graduated from Beechcroft High School in 1982 and went on to join the Marines, then attended Columbus State Community College.

Rapid rise

His law enforcement career began when he became a recruit and then an officer for the Cincinnati Police Division in 1993. He moved through the ranks quickly, joining the police division's SWAT team and earning a promotion to specialist earlier this year.

Spc. Jeter had done so much, and it was hard to believe it was coming to an end, Ms. Collier said, recalling Saturday morning's helicopter ride to Cincinnati that police had arranged.

When she arrived at University Hospital, Ms. Collier's fears were confirmed when doctors told her Spc. Jeter would not survive his injuries. He was taken off life support.

As she began to discuss those final minutes of her son's life, she paused and bowed her head.

Comfort in prayer

''We were with him,'' she said quietly.

She said she took comfort in prayer and knowing that her son also was a spiritual man who was now in a better place.

''He had a relationship with the Lord; that's what will get us through today and tomorrow,'' she said.

Although his life was cut short, Ms. Collier said that judging from the comments of residents and city officials, it was clear her son made a difference in many lives.

''That was the way he wanted to live; he wanted to make an imprint.''

Linda Pope will miss the simple things. The way he would honk twice as he drove off to work. Quiet times at their log home in Harrison. The way he would always find good in situations others deemed bad.

''He was so non-judgmental.'' said Mrs. Pope fighting back tears as she talked Sunday night about her husband, Daniel, 35. ''We live in such a sour world, it was so refreshing to be with someone who had that kind of attitude.''

She smiled as she recalled their last time together. They went through their before-work routine on Friday.

''Be careful,'' she told him.

''Come home to me,'' they told each other.

As he pulled out of the driveway he honked the car's horn twice - a reassurance they would see each other after their workday ended, said Mrs. Pope, a Cincinnati firefighter.

Home a sanctuary

Even though they both worked dangerous jobs, there was never any question that they would see each at the end of each work day.

''When you do this you don't worry about the dangers, you just do your job,'' she said. ''You know you're going to come home in eight hours.

Their log home was a sanctuary not only for them, but also for the wildlife they nursed back to health.

''When you work in the city like we did, you would see some not-so-great things,'' she said. ''We would tell each other how lucky we were to come home to this.''

Blind date

Mrs. Pope, 36, said it is difficult to articulate her loss. In 1989, a fellow firefighter set her and Officer Pope up on a blind date. It was love at first sight.

This week they would have celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

''I miss him. I loved my husband, and he loved me.''

Today's report

Argument preceded shooting
Tragedy puts face on job Cliff Radel column
Funeral services
Friends, acquaintances mourn
Grief stays, say families who know
Police deaths declining

Sunday's report

Community mourns fallen officers
Suspect's family: He was 'respectful'
Sequence of events
Officers highly regarded
Officers deal with sorrow, job's risks
Chief's message: 'Take care of each other'
Hollister St. residents shocked