Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Trooper Robert Lee "Pete" Peterson

North Carolina Highway Patrol, North Carolina

End of Watch Thursday, May 31, 1979

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Reflections for Trooper Robert Lee "Pete" Peterson

Pete, I was a member of the 54 th patrol class. I remember going to the barber shop with all the other cadets and telling the barber to take a little off the sides and leaving the top full. You looked at me with your white wall hair and said, What did you say Ratliff, I replied, I want a haircut like yours Trooper Peterson. You instilled a motivation in all of us better than the Army basic training and my also tour of duty in Vietnam. As a Christian , I am looking forward to running some sprints around Heaven with you, even if I am on the fat man squad. God bless you Trooper Pete Peterson. Ernie Ratliff class of 54.

Master Trooper
NCSHP. E-454; B-339

July 25, 2020

Thank you for your service Pete. You were like a brother. So missed. You will never be forgotten in my lifetime.

A close friend
Institute of Government

June 1, 2020

Trooper Peterson,
On today, the 40th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just as a Law Enforcement Officer but for our Country as well when you served with the USMC during the Vietnam War. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol
El Paso Station

May 31, 2019

Today retired NC Superior Court Judge Richard Boner posted the following on his Facebook page in honor of this fine trooper and I thought it was more than worthy to share:

I have long had tremendous respect for the troopers of the North Carolina Highway Patrol. During my three years of law school (1972-75), I worked at the UNC Institute of Government in Chapel Hill, and I became well acquainted with the staff of the patrol school which was then located at the Institute. One of the staff members was Trooper Robert L. “Pete” Peterson who was the physical training instructor. I lived in a room at the Institute my last two years of school. Pete, who was divorced, lived in a room at the other end of my hall. We were friends. I used to tell Pete I would make him commander of the patrol if I ever became governor. He always responded, “I don’t want nothing to do with any politicians”. Pete left the patrol school to go back on the road after I graduated from law school and began practicing law in Charlotte. On May 31, 1979, Pete was killed in the line of duty in Rutherford County by a man who also killed two deputy sheriffs that same day. I have never forgotten what I was doing when my brother called me with the news of Pete’s death. I cried after hanging up the phone. Two days later I attended Pete’s funeral in a little Baptist Church in Swannanoa. Those several days remain forever etched in my memory. God bless and watch over the men and women of the Silver and Black- The N.C. Highway Patrol.

Major Mike Smathers
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department

October 19, 2018

Pete was a hell of a man and an even better trooper. He and Frank Birch led us through the last Patrol School at UNC in Chapel Hill so many years ago. God rest Pete, "Go To The House"

Tom Banks
Former member of the NCSHP C-658

August 5, 2016

I didn't know Trooper Peterson. I did do countless push-ups and sit-ups, arm rotations, monkey runs, on his flooded ice field in the winter of 1993, I then survived a several years as a NC Trooper, and many rotations as a NC ANG Herk driver in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks Trooper Peterson, I became hard as a rock. Lt. Col. Burt Williams, former H-347 NCSHP.

Trooper Williams
NCSHP

January 1, 2016

Time may have passed but you are not forgotten. I believe as long as someone remembers you or speaks your name, you are still with us.
Thank you for your heroism.
GOD Bless

Detention Officer A.Zambito
Texas

May 31, 2015

I was a deputy with the Randolph Co. Sheriff's Department on patrol the night of May 31, 1979 when we received a radio transmission of a statewide BOLO for the suspect wanted in the slaying of 3 law enforcement officers in Rutherford County. One of the deputies had once lived in our county and I knew several troopers who were personally acquainted with Trooper Peterson. If memory serves me correctly, the shooter had served time years before for slaying an officer in New Mexico. Justice was finally served when he was executed, but how tragic that it took the lives of 4 law enforcement officers to bring this about. May they all rest in peace and God bless for service rendered and a job well done.

Joe Farlow, Police Chief (Retired)
Randleman Police Department

February 12, 2015

On this day, the 35th anniversary of that dark day in Rutherford County Law Enforcement history. My heart goes out to the families of these three brave men that made the ultimate sacrifice 35 years ago today. May you all rest in peace.

Deputy Sheriff Jordan Chapman
Rutherford County Sheriff's Office

May 31, 2014

I have just completed a book (Badge Bullets & Blood) and dedicated it to Pete and Ed Lowery who was also in my patrol school (60th) 1975. When I was shot in October '75 Pete showed up at the hospital the first afternoon and sat at my bedside all night. I woke up off and on and knowing he was at my side was like the hand of God was sent to watch over me. There was a side of Pete I never expected to see or hear after his opening speech on our first day at school. A great man and a greater legend never to be forgotten.

Harry Stegall Former H-238
NCSHP

January 18, 2014

I knew and respected this man, he was the finest trooper I every knew, I'm sure our lord and savior has "trooper Pete", running p.t. For him in heaven, may god bless.

Chief Teddy G. pollard, retired
Creedmoor Police dept., Former A-838,ncshp, Morehead city

March 23, 2013

Pete was the pride and joy of the NCSHP.

Trp Tom Wright
NCSHP Trooper

June 3, 2012

Thank you for you Heroism Sir, RIP

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)

May 31, 2012

I do not no you but I have had the pleasure of knowing your cousins in the past couple of months and they are special people which Im sure you were to.We have a very dangerous job and I am thankful to be able to come on this web site and thank my brothers an sisters in blue.you are missed

honorguard
bcso

December 20, 2011

His life was the North Carolina Highway Patrol. He would not have had it any other way. If it were not for him many of us would not have worn the uniform. Pete rest in peace, you exemplified what a North Carolina State Trooper should be.

Trp. W. M. Goss Frm. E-540
NCSHP 55TH Basic School

July 16, 2011

JUST WANTED TO SAY CAN,T WAIT TO GET TO HEAVEN TO SEE YOU AGAIN PETE,YOU WERE A TROOPERS TROOPER YOU WERE THE HIGHWAY PATROL. YOUR WHAT ALL OF US WANTED TO BE,I WAS IN THE 62ND PATROLE SCHOOL AT CHAPEL HILL. THINGS YOU SAID AND TAUGHT US KEEP ME SAFE ALL 26 YRS WITH THE PATROL. IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY I SAW YOU LAST I NO GOD TOOK YOU FOR A REASON, GUESS HE NEEDED A GOOD TROOPER UP THEIR IN HEAVEN TO WALK THOSE GOLDEN STREETS ANY WAY MAY GOD KEEP YOUR DAUGHTER SAFE AND LET HER HAVE A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE LOVE YOU BUDDY,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,TRP. JS MATHIS

MASTER TROOPER-RETIRED
NCSHP

November 25, 2010

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 30th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service to my home state and the birthplace of my son. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a
Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace.

What a devastating blow to your families and your agencies to lose three officers in one incident.

Phyllis Loya

Anonymous

May 31, 2009

Trooper Peterson, Thank you for your service and dedication to the State of NC. I attend a memorial service today at the Rutheford Co. Sheriff Dept marking the 30th anniversery of this tragic incident. I never got to meet you but you are truly one of my heroes. Your memory still lives on in Rutherford Co. It is my prayer that one day to join the Highway Patrol. Rest in peace brother I will see you in Heaven one day. FOREVER G-235

Ptl. P.D Robbins
Forest City Police Dept. Forest City, NC

May 31, 2009

Pete Peterson was the Trooper's Trooper for sure. As a young Deputy Sheriff I had the opportunity to work special assignments with Trooper Peterson on the Outer Banks during the summer.
He took a special interest in showing the ropes so to speak to a rookie deputy sheriff. Pete thanks for showing me the ropes and spending time with me. I worked an additional twenty years (before retirement) after those summers we spent patrolling those two lane roads in Dare County. I will see you in heaven my friend.

E.J. Williams,Jr., Lt. Col. Retired
Dare County S.O. (retired)

May 23, 2009

Trooper Peterson your work as we know it on this Earth is done. You are in God's Hands now brother. May you rest in peace.

SGT. Daryl Brewer
Clarksville Police Dept. Clarksville, Tennessee

June 2, 2008

I had the honor of knowing Pete as a special friend during his years at the Institute of Government. I was a secretary at the Institute of Government while he lived there and conducted PT training for the Basic Patrol School. Pete was truly a special person who took his career seriously. Pete gained the utmost respect of every cadet who came through Basic Patrol School. I had the honor of doing some hand stitchwork work on some of Pete's personal shirts. He was ever so grateful. We pulled pranks on each other, played softball, and shared many fun times. He was one of a kind. I think of Pete often and the impact he had on so many North Carolina State Troopers. I continue to miss him and always will.

Linda McVey
March 2008

Linda McVey
Friend

March 4, 2008

I had the honor of knowing Pete as a special friend during his years at the Institute of Government. I was a secretary at the Institute of Government while he lived there and conducted PT training for the Basic Patrol School. Pete was truly a special person who took his career seriously. Pete gained the utmost respect of every cadet who came through Basic Patrol School. I had the honor of doing some hand stitchwork work on some of Pete's personal shirts. He was ever so grateful. We pulled pranks on each other, played softball, and shared many fun times. He was one of a kind. I think of Pete often and the impact he had on so many North Carolina State Troopers. I continue to miss him and always will.

Linda McVey
March 2008

Linda McVey
Friend

March 4, 2008

"The Badge"

He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.

He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.

Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.

He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.

His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.

He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.

And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.

But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.

Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.

Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.

So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.

In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.

Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.

Written By:
David L. Bell
Sergeant
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC

December 27, 2007

It was said if ever there was an "All American Trooper" it was Pete. Myself and 33 other members were Pete's first PT class in 1972. When we graduated he told us he knew exactly how far physically he could push a man. He took us to the edge. Little did we know then, that every second spent with him would be so beneficial in the years to come. Pete, its been 27 years since you left us, but rest assured, not a day goes by that you are not remembered. Each member of the 52nd Basic Patrol School took a part of you when we left school in October 1972, and you took a part of us when you left us in May 1979. Thanks Pete.

Lieutenant Johnny Surles, Retired
North Carolina Highway Patrol

October 15, 2006

I knew Pete when he was assigned to the Highway Patrol basic school at the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill. I worked part-time at the Institute and was attending law school at UNC. Pete and I became friends. He was a professional and the epitome of a dedicated highway patrolman. The N.C. Highway Patrol suffered a great loss when Pete was killed in the line of duty.

Richard Boner, Superior Court Judge
Friend of Pete Peterson

May 10, 2006

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