Amid a sea of blue, black, gray and red uniforms worn by law enforcers from across the Northwest, Tacoma Police Officer William F. Lowry was remembered Wednesday as a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice for his city.
Lowry, 39, was shot and killed last Thursday as he responded to a domestic violence call.
Investigators are still trying to figure out why his alleged assailant, a Cambodian immigrant with a history of mental illness, wasn’t detained in a hospital a month before or even arrested earlier the same day when stopped by police in Auburn.
But those questions were put aside for a few hours Wednesday as friends paid their respects to the man they knew as “Billy” and “B-LO,” and hundreds of officers from across the region - a contingent from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police even attended - honored their latest fallen comrade.
“Officer Lowry’s purpose and passion was our safety,” Tacoma Mayor Brian Ebersole said in eulogizing Lowry during a memorial service at the Tacoma Dome that was carried on a local cable access channel. “And while we can never repay him for his ultimate sacrifice, we can and we must honor his memory not only in words, but in actions, to do justice to his life.”
As Lowry lay in a flag-draped coffin in front of a stage draped in black, his colleagues praised him as a dedicated officer who could not wait to get on the street to catch more bad guys, but who also was compassionate enough to offer kind words and deeds to children and victims.
“He was the kind of officer everyone should want in their community,” Assistant Police Chief Charlie Meinema said. “Although slight in frame, Bill Lowry was a big, big man.”
Dozens of Cambodians and Vietnamese also attended the memorial service in an effort to show the public that the shooting doesn’t represent the Asian community.
“We are here to share our sorrow,” said Dareth-Rose Pak, a Cambodian who runs a domestic violence shelter in Tacoma.
Lowry is survived by his wife, Jolin, and a 1-year-old daughter. His brother, Tim, also is a Tacoma police officer.
A decorated officer hired in 1979, Lowry worked in the patrol, narcotics and SWAT sections during his career. Colleagues said his youthful appearance and good acting skills made him an accomplished undercover narcotics officer.
He was buried with police honors in a ceremony that featured a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Vancouver City Police Pipe Band, a funeral procession involving hundreds of police cars and a 21-gun salute.
Lowry died following a shootout that occurred as officers attempted to arrest Sap Kray, 45, during a standoff at the home of Kray’s estranged wife.
Kray, who eventually surrendered, also was wounded during the shootout. He was listed in serious condition Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Auburn Police Chief Dave Purdy acknowledged this week that his department began reviewing its run-in with Kray last Thursday even before the deadly encounter a few hours later.
About 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Auburn police had been called to the Emerald Downs racetrack when an armed and apparently intoxicated Kray showed up and demanded to see his wife, Samoun Srip, who worked at the track. Auburn police talked to Kray, but let him go.
When Auburn officers arrived at Emerald Downs, Kray threatened to shoot anyone who approached, displayed an assault rifle he had in his van and refused to cooperate with officers, Purdy said. The chief said Kray held the weapon up to show police he was armed, but then set it back down.
“He never pointed it at anybody,” Purdy said.
Purdy said no crime was committed and officers had no reason to detain Kray, who drove away about 1 a.m.
A few hours later, the fatal shootout in Tacoma occurred.
After Kray left the racetrack the second time, Auburn police notified several area police agencies, including Tacoma police, Purdy said.