Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Patrol Officer James Gatzounas

Holyoke Police Department, Massachusetts

End of Watch Saturday, January 1, 1977

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Reflections for Patrol Officer James Gatzounas

Officer Gatzounas, it has been 58 years since you were taken from us. New England law enforcement has continued to thrive, learn and become safer due to the traditions and sacrifices you, your family, and many others have made for us. Thank you for your military and 1 1/2 years of law enforcement service.

Chief (Ret) Steven Marshall
Georges Mills, NH

January 1, 2024

Jim grew up in my neighborhood. He was a good person and was liked by all he met. We were all happy and proud for him when he became a cop.
We all suspected he sustained a "heart punch" causing commotio cordis. But the medical examiner must have missed all the visible signs of his injuries and probably wasn't aware of a "heart punch".
I will always remember Jim and the tragic way he died while serving and protecting the city. I will also forever resent that his killing was minimized by less than diligent forensic work.

Paul Gelineau

January 5, 2023

Back in the 70’s there was very little known about high cholesterol, and tests were not routinely performed during a physical . The physicals performed by doctors today may have flagged the need for statin drugs to lower his cholesterol, but that was not routine then. The autopsy showed that Officer Gatzounas suffered a heart attack without taking into account the beating and kicking his body suffered, specifically about his chest. He was black and blue.
Imagine how you would feel if this happened to your loved one? Thugs beating Officer Jim down until his heart collapsed qualifies being charged with first degree murder? Any person in these circumstances would have a high probability of heart damage.
The D.A.s office reduced the charges stating any person with his cholesterol issue could have had a heart attack running up a flight of stairs is definitely not right! His fellow police officers unable to get through the raucous crowd enabled the Thugs to continue kicking and punching this man.
He died at the scene because the severe beatings brought on the attack. They never let up and he didn’t die climbing up stairs.
When will we wake up and uphold the laws of right from wrong?

Enforce our laws in America
Enforce our laws in America

January 4, 2019

not forgotten from a Holyoke native.....remember when i was 12 yrs old when this happened, inspired me to become a police officer. your a hero here in Holyoke along with the other officers who passed away not only here but in city's across the country. thank you for your selfless service in the military and the city of Holyoke.


December 29, 2018

Rest in peace Officer Gatzounas. No matter you died as a hero doing your job with honor, conviction and pride. Taking an officer's life is tragic enough. For your family's sake these two teenagers should spend the rest of their lives in jail. Justice one day will be served by Our Creator. The uniform you donned meant something to the citizens of Holyoke, Massachusetts that you faithfully watched over.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

December 31, 2016

To my uncle Jimmy, it was not fair what happened to you, and we know the real truth, I miss the days of watching football with you , my brothers and dad. I wish you were there as we all grew old, I miss you and say hi to dad ( your brother ).


January 8, 2015

Officer Gatzounas,
On today, the 38th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just for your Community but for our Country as well when you served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam as well. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

January 1, 2015

thinking of you on new years day at 12:36am. never new you but i am from holyoke the city for which you gave your life for. thank you and i continue to pray for you on your anniversary of god calling you home. god bless you and your family. fellow holyoke citizen.


January 1, 2015

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 34th anniversary year of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

I pray for the solace of all who love and miss you for I know both the pain and pride are forever.
Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
mom of fallen officer Larry Lasater

January 1, 2011

Officer Gatzounas,
On today, the 33rd anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Holyoke. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.



January 1, 2010

"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
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

February 18, 2008

Patrol Officer Gatzounas, today marks the 31st anniversary of your brutal murder at the hands of some lowlife thugs. I hope that whoever did this paid for it, if not in this life then in the next. You didn’t deserve this. You were there to protect life and property and break up a fight before anyone could be seriously hurt, and this is what you got for it. It’s truly tragic.

Though you were taken physically from your wife, child and all those who knew and loved you, I know in my heart you never truly left them and watch over them still to this day. I’m also sure that the 18 short months you served with the Holyoke PD had an impact on everyone working there.

God Bless and may you continue to Rest in Peace, Brother.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.

January 1, 2008



December 30, 2007

Uncle Jim, I was seven when you died, and I didn't get the chance to know you, but you are always in my thoughts forever. Love,Kristen


September 13, 2006

I thank you for your dedication and salute you for your sacrifice.

A grateful citizen.

September 22, 2004

Ptl. Gatzounas,

Sir, You are not forgotten by us in your law enforcement family. Your sacrafice was not in vain, as you are honored in every good qaulity of humanity. You honor us all and remind us of what true courage means. Thank You for being willing to go where few will. "Poi si torno' all" eterna fontana."

Ontario Police

August 9, 2004

Jim......a deputy in Ohio put it officer on the ODMP should be without a reflection. Thank you for your service and God bless.

Special Agent Dennis Duncan
Norfolk Southern Railway Police

March 5, 2004

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