Fallen WB officer remembered on one-year anniversary

By: Robin Ruehlen | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 18, 2013

 Mourners hold candles during a Sept. 11, 2012, vigil for Patrick O’Rourke.

Mourners hold candles during a Sept. 11, 2012, vigil for Patrick O’Rourke.

File photo by Donna Agusti

WEST BLOOMFIELD — One year after the death of West Bloomfield Police Sgt. Patrick O’Rourke, the department continues to honor its fallen comrade and remember his sacrifice.

Lt. Tim Diamond said West Bloomfield officers attended a memorial Mass and graveside service Sept. 9 at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Fenton with O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, their four children and extended family. They will be attending other upcoming events in O’Rourke’s honor, as well.

“People were walking around here literally stunned when it happened,” he recalled.

“This is a tight-knit department, and everyone knows each other and their families. We were in a daze for quite a while. The one-year mark is a big milestone to get past.”

O’Rourke, 39, was fatally shot while responding to a report of gunfire in the 4000 block of Forest Edge Drive at around 10 p.m. Sept. 9, 2012.

Chief Michael Patton said the gunman, 50-year-old Ricky Coley, never said a word as officers entered his home and tried to make contact with him.

“Officers were calling his name, asking if he was OK, and telling him they were there to help him,” Patton said.

Patton said five officers were lined up behind a shield outside the bedroom where Coley was barricaded. O’Rourke was last in line, holding a pry bar.

Without warning, Coley began firing his semi-automatic weapon through the bedroom wall, striking O’Rourke in the head. Patton said O’Rourke went down immediately, and likely was killed instantly by the shot. Still under fire, his fellow officers had to scramble to get him downstairs and out of the house for medical treatment.

At the end of the resulting 20-hour standoff in which Coley fired on officers and police robots repeatedly, he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

O’Rourke was the first officer killed in the line of duty in West Bloomfield’s history. In a sad turn, Michigan State Trooper Paul Butterfield, 43,  was fatally shot in the head during a traffic stop in Mason County, on Michigan’s northwest side, on the anniversary of O’Rourke’s death.

“(O’Rourke’s wife) Amy was very, very upset when she learned of this (Butterfield’s death),” Patton said.

O’Rourke was hired into West Bloomfield as a cadet in 1997 by Patton and became an officer in 2000. During his time with the department, he received a Lifesaving Award, three Unit Commendations and three Certificates of Merit.

A portion of Old U.S. 23, north of M-59 and south of Center Road, near where O’Rourke lived in Tyrone Township, was officially named the Sgt. Patrick John O’Rourke Memorial Highway in a ceremony Sept. 13.

Patton said he traveled to Washington, D.C., during National Police Week in May, where O’Rourke’s name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well as to the Michigan Fallen Heroes Memorial in Pontiac in a ceremony Sept. 11.

West Bloomfield’s own fallen heroes memorial, which will also bear O’Rourke’s name, is scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks.

“I have his picture in my office, and I see it every day. We all walk past his locker,” Patton said.

“Pat was a really good-natured guy. You liked being with him, and he was a really good police officer. He was patient and strong, and he never complained. If something bad was happening, you were looking around to see if Pat was there — and you felt like it would be OK if he was.”