Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Trooper James E. Saunders

Washington State Patrol, Washington

End of Watch Thursday, October 7, 1999

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Trooper James E. Saunders

Don't grieve for me, for now I am free,

I am following the path GOD laid for me.

I took his hand when I heard him call,

I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,

To love... to play.

Tasks left undone must stay that way,

I found peace at the close of the day.

If my parting has left a void,

Then fill it with remembered joy.

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

Ah...these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with time of sorrow,

I wish for you the sunshine of tomorrow.

My lifes been full, I savored much,

Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all to brief,

Don't lengthen it now with undo grief.

Lift up your heart and share with me,

GOD wanted me now...He set me free. live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die


Jim,   your death was too soon and unjust.  I still remember the night I went to work and was told what had happened.  I know you died doing what you loved to do.  Helping and protecting the citizens of Washington State.  I can remember when I first met you.  I began working for the Coulee City Police Dept.  Infact I was the only police officer for that community.  You were quick to greet me and welcome me to the area,  and I knew I would never be alone on the streets.  You never failed to pull over and chat with me anytime you were passing through town.  This was a great comfort, knowing you were out there.  When I began working my K-9, Caliber, you were very supportive.  I only had the privilege of working with you for just over two years before you were transfered to the Tri Cities, and I moved on to the Ephrata Police Dept.  But I knew we would meet again someday.   I just didn't realize it would be at your funeral.   All of us who have called you friend, whether we be in law enforcement, or citizens you served and protected will miss you.  I am so greatful that I had the pleasure to meet you and work with you.  Your positive attitude about people, the job, and even the long cold winter nights on the street helped me to always try and remain positive in the same way.  I will never forget your broad smile, and the long chats we had.  My thoughts and prayers will be with your family always.

K-9 Officer Carrie R. Knouf
Ephrata Police Department   Ephrata, WA


You are living through what every spouse dreads, the loss of our beloved officer. I can't begin to understand the huge range of emotions that you are going through, losing your husband, expecting a child, and the fears for the future, but most of all the unanswerable question of why. I wish I could answer that, but I can't. What I can do is let you know that we are all praying for you and your family everyday. We pray that God gives you the strength to get through another day. We pray that God gives you the peace to look towards the future. We pray that God gives you the comfort that you need to move on. Please know that spouses everywhere, mothers everywhere are praying for you. Also please know that we are very grateful to your husband for the wonderful job that he did, against so many negative societal odds, he was a great man who did a great job.

God bless you my friend

Mrs. Paul McCormick
Proud Police Wife


First off all, "GET BACK", those words will live in my memories forever. I wish we would have got together like we said we were going to do. You were a good friend and will be missed alot. I hope one day to meet your kids and tell them what a great man you were. I have said many prayers for you and your family with hopes they do not go unanswered. Jim we got hired the same day, and worked together at the mansion, then the academy, I never thought I would have to say good bye to you, so I won't. SEE YA LATER JIM!

Trooper Douglas S. Jacobs
Washington State Patrol

As I start the Police Academy I can't help but be touched by your life. You will ever remain a extrodanary officer. I will be working with friends of yours, and have been told of the many wounderful things you have done. No one person can ever take the hurt of your passing. But together with support we can hold on to your light annd never let it fade. We will watch over your family and keep them in our prayers.

Reserve Officer A. J. Cavanaugh
Pomeroy Police

Jimmy - Seems like just yesterday we were both cadets starting the Academy together. You got us through alot of tough times with your sense of humor and ability to laugh at about anything. You took great pride in being a trooper and everything you did and are an example for us all.

I always enjoyed the times we've gotten to spend together and only wish we'd gotten together more often like we always talked about. I will remember my visits to Grand Coulee forever and think of you everytime I watch that lazer show. Don't think I had forgotten about Jaeger's wedding.....I still laugh about you!! I still owe you for helping handcuff me to that urinal and you know what they say about paybacks! God works in mysterious ways and we'll never really know why this happened to you, but Billie and the kids will be taken care of forever.

It seems strange saying goodbye. You had many good years left but we'll never know why you were taken so early. Rest in peace my friend for you'll be missed but never forgotten. "GET BACK JIM - GET BACK!!!!"

Sergeant Ron Mead
Washington State Patrol


At 2120 on 10-7-99 Kenny called and told me that you had been murdered in Pasco 20 minutes before. A flood of emotions and memories took over that I have never experienced before. I wanted to tell you some things that I should have shared earlier.

I'll never forget the time I first met you in Moses Lake on your coaching trip. As it always is with cadets, you were informally watched and critiqued by the rest of us local troopers to see if you could cut it. Jim, you could not only cut it but you shined. You obviously impressed someone in Olympia too because after your coaching trip you were assigned to lonely Grand Coulee, which is not common for a 20 something boot trooper. You were trustworthy and possessed judgement beyond your years or experience.

I missed you when you transferred to Kennewick but happy for your family because you told me you all loved it in the Tri-Cities. I was also glad that your beat was next to mine so we could still keep in touch. I knew that where ever you were at you would be accepted as a brother by your detachment because that's just the way you were.

I enjoyed your company when you would cruise down to the freeway from Grand Coulee to work aircraft with us. I had fun when you would sneak south to arrest drunks and dopers at night. I enjoyed going to training with you and playing basketball when we should have been thumping the bag. I enjoyed your spirit, sense of humor and especially your friendship. I will always treasure the memories of your company at coffee, stopping cars together, or trying to stay awake during quarterly training. I will never forget our roadside discussions when I would stray a little too far south and meet you in the median of 395 to solve the problems of the world and catch up on your achievements in Kennewick. Thank you for the short chats on Hoquiam (when we could hear each other). From the bottom of my heart I thank Billie, Megan, your little one and your parents for sharing you with the rest of us. You are a part of who I am and have made me a better person. I pledge to you my friend that my family will never, ever forget your family and their needs. Rest assured that your love for them will be multiplied through us and your children will grow up to be proud of their daddy and you will be proud of them.

Watch over the rest of us from up there Jimbo. I take comfort knowing that you are now my silent partner and are with me always.

Trooper Dave Bolton
Washington State Patrol

Working the road.....working the road. Fun, scary, and dangerous. And doing good. The ultimate legacy.

Wm E Sasseen-Officer
California Highway Patrol


We never got the chance to meet, and for that I will always regret. I can tell by the impact you have had amongst our fellow troops that you were a special individual; both in your work and personal life.

Your death was tragic and senseless, and I can only hope that we (the law enforcement community) may be able to salvage some sort of lesson from it all. A lesson not in officer safety, because I believe that there was nothing you could have done to prevent this. You went by the book and followed the rules. May we learn a lesson in life; that it is all to short and we need to constantly let those around us know how special and needed they really are. God Bless you Jim, Billie, Megan, and the unborn child.

Trooper S.M. Powers
Washington State Patrol


I will never forget them times we spent on the side of the roadways in North Grant County, talking, sharing stories. When we first met, I remember you telling me about your friend with Chelan County that worked a K9 and how that dog saved his life. At the time, I was just getting used to working my first K9 Dann. I was sure that You, Dann and myself would be working together alot since you were obviously Pro-K9. Other K9 officers will understand what I mean by that comment. I was right, you and Dann become buddies. Your energy as a young Rookie Trooper amazed me. Your smile, your jokes truly brought brightness to them long winter nights. From the moment we met, I knew you were someone very special.

I will also never forget the evening of October 7th, 1999 when my dispatch center announced the "Attempt to Locate for Homocide of Trooper 1053, in the Tri-Cities Area" The shock and disbelief at the moment just about drove me into Bank's Lake. I was forced to pull to the side of the road, turn out my lights, and let out a long hard cry. I asked "Why, why another one of my friends" It wasn't long ago when we lost Mike Marshal another good friend. I was angry, that God would choose to take the Best of the Best at such a early time in their lives.

Jim, 31 years of age is so young, you had such a long rewarding life and career ahead of you. Yours like Mike's murder, was by the hands of a illegal alien. I am trying so hard to understand that it don't matter what nationality you are, there is Good and Bad in everyone.

Jim, you had that talent to be able to pick out the good from the bad, but you treated everyone with the same respect, something so many of us have trouble with doing.

The day of your funeral, I made the trip to Tri-Cities following the Grand Coulee Delegation of patrol cars which included cars from Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, Tribal PD and myself. As we got closer to the Tri-City Coliseum, we fell in behind a line of Idaho State Police Cars. Knowing that they had lost Trooper Huff a short time ago, the full impact of your passing caught up with me but it wasn't till we arrived at the coliseum that it really hit me. The Fire Trucks in two locations had parked their Ladder Trucks, extended their ladders, and hung huge 20' american flags from them. Patrols cars from every agency I could imagine was parked in the parking lot. I was impacted by the Memorial Service, but what really got me was the trip from Kennewick to Levenworth. As we headed west on I-82, nearly every freeway over pass had one of them big fire trucks with a flag hanging off it's extended ladder. The fireman standing at attention next to them trucks. Oh yea, a!
nd the hundreds of people standing along the road either covering thier hearts with thier caps or hands. Many waving flags or saluting us. Every freeway off ramp had patrol cars with officer's standing at attention, I assume these were the officers that had to stay home to patrol their streets while we memorialized you.

Jim, what hit me the hardest and caused me to shed the most tears, was during your Memorial Service in Levenworth, the town were you were raised. Your daughter Megan, danced around in front of gym, just in front of your casket. Such a innocent victim of your un-timely death. She will never see you again on this earth, but she was business as usual, dancing, smiling, playing, just like you would do around us, when we worked an accident scene or so many of the sad things we have experienced.

You are gone now Jim, we will never be able to work another call with you, but let it be known, that you will never leave me as I will never have to look far to find you. Your spirit will live forever in my heart, and one more thing before I go. That trip to Levenworth, well it reminded me why we do what we do and why you died that night on October 7th, 1999. The American Flag, the symbol for Freedom, "Ole Glory", yes Jim, we are fighting a battle but it's here on the streets of our nation. Eventhough you did everything right as far as your traffic stop, calling out your stop etc. you met up with the enemy that night and for some reason this time the enemy won. But Jim, the contribution you made to your family, friends and the citizens of the United States in such a short time, makes you the winner in this one. I know you are in a much grander place now, in fact you Mike and Jerry are sitting on a cloud as I type, looking down and wishing you could be there with us in a more physical plane. But I also know your spirits will live with us forever.

Thank you, Jim SP1053, you will be forever in my heart and mind and a inspiration to fight harder for the freedoms that we enjoy in the great country. Untill we meet again Jim, so long my little brother.

Deputy Ron Renken
Grant County Sheriff's Department, Ephrata WA


I remember the fine young, excited Cadet when you came out of the Academy for me to coach. The Field Training trip was spectacular, even when you tried to make the u-turn in front of the semi on Degerstrom Hill and killed the engine on your car.

You were so easy to coach, because you had desire, great judgement and a great feeling for people, both good and bad.

I remember you talking about your Dad and Mom and sister. Very proud. I guess I'm partly responsible for your two kids, since I am the one who showed you the rental house and introduced you to the future in-laws. I told you they had a daughter that was just the one for you. I remember when you came back to me and told me you were going to get married to her. What a smile, one of your biggest ever.

Your officer safety was always at the top, and that is why it is so hard for us to keep going. Shock, disbelief, withdrawal, anger, and frustration, I've felt all of those in the last week. Honor in being your friend and co-worker, I felt that too.

I promise that we will always take care of Billie and the kids. The good Lord works in ways that we don't understand on this Earth, but if we trust in him with all our heart, he will direct our path.

Keep a good eye on us from up there. Say hi to Louie Millard and Harry too.

We will always love and miss you brother.

Sergeant Gary McNinch
Washington State Patrol

Trooper Jim Saunders. I never had the opportunity to meet the man that was described as being a devoted family man and a proud law enforcement officer. However, I feel as though I had known him after experiencing the heart-wrenching, respectful memorial service in Kennewick, Washington. The manner in which his fellow Troopers talked about him, I know that I would have felt honored to call Trooper Saunders my friend.

I will never forget Jim Saunders, nor will I forget the rest of the law enforcement officers that have given the ultimate sacrifice. I know in my heart that Trooper Saunders did the job with honor and he was a leader.

I'm not really sure what else to say here, except that my thoughts and prayers will always be with Trooper Saunders' family, friends, and fellow Troopers.

Lieutenant Erik D. Sulonen
Bainbridge Island Police Department

In Memory . . . words that can only mean that a brother or sister of the badge has come to the end of the final shift.

A chill races from the top of your head to the soul of your feet. Nothing seems to bring relief. At first there is the unknown, did I know the officer personally, a close friend, just an acquaintance. In the end it doesn't matter - he is my brother, she my sister. Then anger and disbelief, yet every emotion must be checked for we must continue to serve and those we serve won't accept that we are affected to the depths of our souls in the senseless killing of a cop.

As I contimplated on the events of the past week and heard and read of Jim's life, I was reminded of the eagle and its process of death. First, the eagle lives a majestic life. From birth to that final moment he is the supreme life within his kingdom. Then, as death nears, the eagle returns to its nest and settles in for the final rest. He spreads his wings wide and stretches his neck forward and upon settling down passes from this life.

Jim was as the eagle. He chose to be supreme, living life to a majestic fullness, keeping his family first and accepting the challenge to serve community. He placed his life on the line many times, as every police officer must do. Jim's death is not without dignity, although cut short by an assassin's bullet, his death is overshadowed by the majesty of a "big" life.

He was unable to stretch his wings in the final moments of life but our memory of him, his life, his sacrafice fulfills that majesty. Thousands came and through the process of a memorial celebraton stretched the majesty to fulfillment.

I pray that the Spirit of the living God stand close to all who wear a badge and daily walk in readiness to pay the supreme sacrifice. If we must give our life for our community, we need to daily walk in the salvation and loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ . . . and in majesty our soul and spirit will soar to His side to live in perfect peace having paid the high price which goes unnoticed by those we serve.

Billie and all those related to Jim - God's grace and love surround you and draw you together and close to God in Jesus Christ! May you be comforted by a closeness of the Holy Spirit which cannot be explained by words. You will all be in our prayers for a very long time - for we shall not forget that you too paid the price in this sacrifice.

God bless us all . . .

Bill R. Blosser
Pasco Police Department





"I was what others did not want to be.

I went where others feared to go

and did what others failed to do.

I asked nothing for those who gave nothing,

and reluctantly accepted the thought

of eternal loneliness...should I fail.

I have seen the stark face of terror;

felt the stinging cold of fear;

and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s love.

I have cried, pained and hoped....but most of all

I have lived times others would say

were best forgotten

At least someday I will be able to say

that I was proud of what I was.....

a Trooper."

Author Unknown

Trooper Saunders,

You have touched oh so many hearts including mine. I may not have known you, which I wish I have. But I too have the ultimate dream, and that is to one day become a Police Officer, and that one day will come. You were the best of the best, and someday I will too hopefully be the best of the best.

God Bless you trooper, you are dearly missed,

15 October 1999

Cadet Nick Kennedy
Umatilla Police Department

I was in Kennewick a few hours ago, attending the memorial service for a fallen Washington State Trooper. He was described as a man large in stature with an enormous heart. I could tell.

His family cried, and the community cried with them as pictures of a smiling baby boy who turned into a teenager then into a college boy, a state trooper, a husband and a dad. I'll never in my life forget the picture of his daughter Megan wearing his campaign hat, looking so proud and standing so tall. I never met Trooper Saunders, and because of a killer, I never will.

When we lost Trooper Huff 16 months ago, the Washington State Patrol responded across stateline to stand at our side and hold us up, now it's our turn to be the shoulder to cry on. The hurt never goes away, the memories never fade but life does go on.

Trooper Saunders, don't weep for your children, we'll all help your wife to raise them to be people you'll be proud of. Your job now is to watch them grow from above, still loving them. It takes a village.....

Farewell, take care of Linda!

Communications Officer Cyndi Broden
Idaho State Police Region 1


I sit here with my newborn son on my lap, remembering our last conversation, and I feel guilty that I am able to see, hear, and touch him. All of our "roadside" talks centered around our families and our profession. When last we spoke my wife was in her last days of her pregnancy and you shared the news of your upcoming event as well. You were so proud! I went on Paternity leave a few days later and was blessed with another beautiful and healthy boy. I couldn't wait to get back to work and share the news with all my peers. When the news of your passing came to me I sat alone in the dark and cried. There were many reasons for the tears. I knew that you would not ever get to hold your little ones again. That was the greatest blow anyone could have given you.

I have just returned from your memorial service and was not surprised at all the depth of emotion that those who knew, worked, or loved you displayed. I/We have lost a tremendous co-worker and friend. Watch over us "Big Dog" and we will watch over your loved ones.

God Bless you Jim Saunders

Deputy Chuck Humphreys
Walla Walla Sheriffs Ofice

Trooper Saunders, the morning I heard about you, my heart sunk. I have many friends that are police officers, one of which is a trooper. I already lost a great mentor years ago with the of Snohomish County Sheriffs Sgt. Jim Kinard. I pray for your soul, and for your families.

Sean G.
Mukilteo, Wa.

I was working Thursday night when dispatch advised of a Trooper shot and a BOLO out on the suspect 's pick-up truck. I immediately started to think of every Trooper that I had met since moving to Washington and started to wonder "who" was it, and how bad could it be

I found myself praying to God that it was just a minor injury or that this was another "save" for the ballistic vest. An hour later, I learned it wasn't going to be either. Officers within the department started to wear that damn black band on their badges and I immediately found myself filled with anger and pain.

"Why", I found myself asking. "Why don't all of our badges just have that damn black band on it permantly". We go out day and night and fight a hellish fight throughout this country and every 57 hours, one of us doesn't get the opportunity to say "10-7"......ever.

Trooper Saunders, you did not die in vain. They caught the coward that shot you and I'm grateful for that.

May God watch over your wife and children and give them the strength to deal with your tragic death. I'm confident that your fellow Troopers and fellow officers will do whatever they can to keep your memory strong and your family well.

"First they take an oath...

Now look at all they take.

They take it in stride when people call them pigs.

They take time to stop and talk to children.

They take your verbal abuse while giving you a ticket you really deserved.

They take on creeps you would be afraid to even look at.

They take time away from their families to keep you safe.

They take your injured child to the hospital.

They take the graveyard shift without complaint because its their turn.

They take their lives in their hands daily.

They take you home when your car breaks down.

They take time to explain why both your headlights have to work.

They take the job no one else wants, telling you a loved one has died.

They take criminals to jail.

They take in sights that would make you cry.

Sometimes, they cry too, but they take it anyway because someone has to.

If they are lucky....they take retirement.

They take memories to bed each night that you couldn't bear for even a day.

Sometimes, they take a bullet.

And yes, occasionally they may take a free cup of coffee.

Then one day they pay for all that they have taken.

God takes them. "

Author Unknown

Officer Jeff Wilken
Vancouver Police Department (WA)

Mrs. Saunders,

I never had the honor of meeting your husband, but from whatI've been told by my son,Ranger Steve Clark, I wish I had. He sounded like the type of guy I'd be very comfortable with, particulary in Steve's basement.

I know you will someday get around to reading these messages. By that time, a candle or two will be lit in your husband's honor. Unlike his memory, the candles will eventually burn out. My prayers are with you and your family.

God bless.

Joe Clark
Thankful American


Here I sit writing in your memorial page, and not knowing what to say. I've told our golf story several times to our friends, others might not understand. The last time we talked you were asking me about my close call, and now it seems like nothing because it ended the right way. I know that you did every thing right, because you always did. I got the call at 2140 that you had been shot. I wish that I was there to cover you on that stop, the same way that you used to cover me. I will never forget the good times that we had, and friendship we shared. I still remember you and Billie out for your walks as you would go by the house and Billie having to take two steps to every one of your strides. Rest in peace Jimmy.

John Tufts Police Officer
Grand Coulee Police

Trooper Saunders and Family:

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rain fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again

May GOD hold you in the palm of his hand.

An Old Irish Saying.

I am very sad for your loss.

Ross N. Wilcox

(Ret)Corrections/Res. Deputy

Benton County Sheriff

Cowlitz County Sheriff

Ross N. Wilcox, (Ret)
Benton County Sheriff Dept.

Trooper Saunders, I never met you but have met many of your fellow Troopers here in King County a few I've even worked with, they are all good people as Iam sure you were. My heart goes out to your family and all the troops out there on the roads. I can only guess what and how they must be feeling now that you were stolen from them and us. It seems we attend too many funrals these days, each one hurts a litte more, each one harder to accept. Take care my brother, you are in good hands and company now, may peace be with you and all the other fallen brothers and sisters with you.

Sgt. Mike Myers
King County Jail, RJC


We up here in the Coulee still can't believe you're gone. We know that you have a special place in heaven, but hopefully, they build the ceilings a bit higher up there then they do down here. I can still see you throwing darts down my basement with your head hitting the ceiling and you all hunched over. I remember you as a speaker at my DARE graduations always smiling and shaking hands with the kids and always having a kind word. By the way, after you were taken from us on Thursday night, I just wasn't sure if I could go in and teach DARE the following day to first and second graders. But then I thought that you would want me to go in and talk to the kids, which I did. All 150 kids now know all about Trooper Jimmy Saunders and the special life you led. Please know that we'll miss you and we'll take special care of your beautiful wife Billie, your lovely daughter Megan, and certainly your little one to come. God Bless you Trooper, you will be truly missed.

Stephen M. Clark

U.S. National Park Service

Lake Roosevelt


Trooper Saunders,

You made the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of Washington State, and for that we are all forever grateful.

I never had the chance to meet you, but as all WSP Troopers I have come across and know, not one was unprofessional or unwilling to help at anytime. Our prayers are with you, and may you and the sacrifice you made, never, ever be forgotten.

Mark Holthaus
51st Military Police Det.

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