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Duty, honor in rural Utah

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Roosevelt Police Chief Cecil Gurr was "off duty" in his car en route to the grocery store to run family errands when he heard a police radio dispatch about a domestic dispute at a nearby convenience store.

Gurr, as he had countless other times, responded to the call. The gunman, allegedly a federal and state parole violator, emerged from his truck and fired an assault rifle at Gurr and two other officers. The officers returned fire, and during the exchange Gurr was struck in the head by a bullet. He fell to the pavement and died in the middle of the street.

Now a rural Utah community is attempting to come to grips with this senseless death and to honor a man most knew as the police chief but many knew better as a close friend. This page joins Utahns in extending condolences to Gurr's family and to the people of Roosevelt who have been rocked by this horrible tragedy.

Gurr's slaying is a reminder that there is no such thing as "off duty" among the men and women in law enforcement. They take an oath to serve and protect, which does not confine itself to office hours.

According to published reports, the incident that triggered the domestic dispute was drug related. The suspect, Lee Roy Wood, is accused of assaulting a female acquaintance after she returned from a drug run to the Salt Lake area with too little methamphetamine. As this incident painfully illustrates, small towns are not immune to drug-related crimes or gun violence.

Gurr, 50, had been Roosevelt's police chief since 1978. He grew up in Roosevelt and joined its police in 1974 after a tour of duty in Vietnam and a short stint with the FBI. He is survived by his wife, Lynnette, three children and four grandchildren.

Gurr reportely ran a tight ship and expected nothing but the best from his officers and himself.

"He was very fair and firm and always had the best interests of the community at hand," said former Roosevelt police officer Brad Draper. Now that small town must come to grips with the loss of a hometown son whom friends and acquaintances described as deeply devoted to his family and his hometown.

Said Draper, "He was a very dear friend; he'd do anything for you. He never asked for anything in return."

Fittingly, Gurr's family has asked that instead of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Gurr's name to the Children's Justice Center in Roosevelt, 130 N. 500 West.