Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Sergeant John Charles Hawley

Elmira Police Department, New York

End of Watch Sunday, January 8, 1984

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Sergeant John Charles Hawley

Gosh John another year has gone by and time seems to have flown yet it seems like just yesterday I got the call that my big brother my friend was gone way too soon. You are there with your mother Mary and I’m sure she was happy to see you but for those of us left behind it was the saddest day of our lives. Missing you like always

Tina Peterson Castle
Friend

January 13, 2019

Remember this very well. Think of this all the time. Sad situation for everyone involved. A good friend and GREAT officer was lost.

Patrolman Richard A Kay
Elmira Police Department

January 8, 2019

Well Sarge it is now January 8th., 2019 and it is a nasty day, ice covers the ground, not quite as cold as it was January 8th., 1984 the day you were killed, but it still is a nasty day.
I received a email from your daughter Tina, she is a fine young lady and owns a Floral shop, she has done well.
I spent 5 hours at my home on September 13th., 2018 with your son JD, he has also done well, he owns two farms and is also a Sergeant in a Police Department up State.
I listened to him tell how he and his sister worried what their futures would be when they lost the most important person in their lives back in 1984....it was sad...real sad.
This is something that I never thought of, how your children must have felt after your death, they had some tough times.
JD told me that a County Sheriffs Deputy named Pastrick had taken the time to help guide him into Law Enforcement and that he is a great guy...I could not agree more.
Just a note to you and Officer Joey Marrone Sr., to let both of you know that I am thinking of you.
Al Wilson ( Retired Captain Elmira NY, City Police)

Al Wilson Captain Retired
Elmira City Police - retired

January 8, 2019

Never forgotten brother- taken way too soon.

Chief Michael Barton(ret)

January 8, 2018

Rest In Peace Brother in Blue. Thank you and your family for your sacrifice and service.

Officer Mike Robinson (Ret)
Upland Police Dept. CA

January 8, 2018

Well we are into another new year Sarge and it is not any easier to write in your Memorial, but I will give it a try.
The last day of 2017 a Deputy was killed in a ambush and four others were wounded in the same incident, it is a bad time to be in law enforcement.
I think of you and Officer Joey Marrone Sr., most every day and it is no easier after all the time that has passed.
Just wanted you two guys to know that I have not forgotten you and miss you both.

Capt. Al Wilson Elmira City Police Retired
1/1/2018

Capt. Al Wilson - retired
Elmira City Police - retired

January 1, 2018

John finally the truth has come out and I am very aware of who the officer was that shot you. I just wish that the truth had come out much sooner. I have grieved the loss of a great friend for all these years as have many others my 4 children know your name with one son a federal police officer and one son a NYS corrections officer you saved my life for which I am eternally grateful for. I figured out some of this when I took firearms in college those of us who called you friend will never find peace as a result of your death and there will be no comfort. As it just seems that not a day goes by where someone is not wishing you were here. With the love of a friend and utmost respect. Tina Marie Peterson Castle. Missing you always

Tina Castle
Friend

March 3, 2017

34 years ago today, my good friend Sgt., John Hawley was killed in a Swat action at Jones Ct., in Elmira, NY.
Time has not fogged my memory of that day and the cover up of the shooting that resulted in the death of my good friend.
I went to the scene of the shooting and found that the account of the shooting as told by the Police Department was not true and that three shots had been fired in the direction of Sgt., Hawley and not just one as was the information released by the Police Department.
The information released was that the Officer responsible for shooting and killing of Sgt., Hawley had been trying to position himself to cover Sgt., Hawley and the shotgun went off by accident. This was not true and was evident by the impact of the 32 cal., pellets on the wall of Jones Ct.
The shotgun was a 12 Ga., loaded with double "O" Buckshot and there are 9 pellets in each 12 Ga., shell and I found 9 pellets had struck the wall where Sgt., Hawley had started running from , a few feet East of that area I found that 8 pellets had impacted the wall and then a few feet further East there was 9 pellet impacts. The missing pellet in the second shot was in Sgt., Hawley's head resulting in his death.
The Officer who shot and killed Sgt., Hawley was shooting a pump shot gun and I can not believe that the gun went off by accident twice more after the first shot, it requires a deliberate act to function the action on the weapon.
I went on and stayed with the Department until April 7th., 1997 and despised many of the people in the Department for having been part of that cover up and to this day I do not have contact with any of them.
Several of the retired officers meet at my home once or twice a year and often the conversation is about the killing of our good friend Sgt., Hawley.
Time has not lessened the bad feeling I have about this incident and the guys I still have contact with share my feelings about the handling of the death of our good friend Sgt., Hawley.

Capt., Al Wilson (Retired)
Elmira, New York City Police

January 8, 2017

John. Each day my son the federal police officer and my son the NYS corrections officer I find some comfort in the fact you are looking over them but I am still worried sick each day they report to work as it seems that in today's society an officer's life means very little if anything to the criminal element. Missing our talks and your advice you were the big brother I needed. But even after all these years it seems like we lost you earlier today.

Tina Peterson Castle
Friend

January 3, 2017

Still thinking of you pal and the day you were ripped away from us, it has not gotten any easier and it never will.
We have lost a few more of the old guys during 2016 and it has been a bad year of Law enforcement, more guys killed than any year up to this time in history.
Just wanted to let you know that I still think of you every day.

Captain Al Wilson (Retired)
Elmira New York City Police

January 1, 2017

John. They say time heals everything well 32 years later I still do not feel healed. Each day I look at 2 ofy 3 sons and I am reminded of you. 1 became a federal police officer and 1 a New York state correction officer they went into law enforcement because of you and of course your friend officer David Holmes. My 4 children knew your story from the time they could talk. I always told them of how your friendship had helped me become a much better person and I told them that because of your friendship I went to your funeral and stood and served your fellow officers at the heights Legion until each and every person had been served in spite of the fact I had been severely injured and should have had surgery that day. I had decided that it was the least I could do for someone who had given his life for me and others. And because of you I have 2 children in law enforcement none of us are perfect. But some like you came close to that in other people's eyes. Missing our talks and your top notch advice. Because of you I was able to leave an abusive relationship and move on without feeling guilty. Missing you always. Missing a great friend

Civilian Tina Peterson-Castle
Friend

March 12, 2016

I still remember it like it was yesterday, 8 years old and woken up early in the morning to hear my mother crying hysterically. Still dazed and half asleep I started for the stairs to be met by my older cousin Mike, far more of a older brother to me than a cousin could be, who was coming to get me from my bedroom. Even at that young age my heart sank, I knew what my dad did for a living and I knew the SWAT Team had been called out last night. I was there when the phone rang. He grabbed that old K frame Smith & Wesson, said he would be back and was out the door. I soon found out that my father had been shot up real bad and that one of his closest friends John Hawley was dead.
Now, 32 years later I find myself commanding the very same SWAT Team in which both John Hawley and my father were apart of. There are very few left in the Elmira Police Dept who actually knew John, probably a good half of the current officers on the SWAT Team were not yet born in 1984. Although they never met John, they all feel like they knew him for they are all cut from the same mold. Being a cop is one thing, being a SWAT cop is something entirely different. I am 18 years into this career, this way of life, I grew up surrounded by it, I've seen it rejoice, I've seen it cry and I've damn sure seen it bleed, this my friends is all I have ever known. There have been countless early mornings riding in that bus on the way to job when I think of someone having to show up to my doorstep. The level of terror my wife and son would go through at just seeing that cop car pull up in the early morning. Knowing the stakes, having lived it first hand, I have often wondered what is wrong with my head to risk that grief to my family. I have come to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with my head, it's just who we are and what we do. I have many friends outside of law enforcement who for years ask why the hell am I on SWAT? I can't really explain it, I'm no adrenalin junky, hell I'm afraid of heights! The best way I can sum it up is, I do it because of my current guys, the guys who came before me and the ones that will do it long after I am gone. If your going in, I am going in, if your fighting than I am fighting. I guess if you have never been there then it would be hard to understand. there is a job that needs to be done and few are able to perform it. That's why I joined the SWAT Team and that's why I command it today. To Sgt John Hawley, you will never be forgotten and your sacrifice is carried upon our shoulders on every call out we run. Hands up, chin down, we press forward always.

Sgt Joseph Marrone SWAT Team Commander
Elmira Police Department

January 9, 2016

32 years today, it is just like it is happening now, I did call into HQ and asked if they wanted me to respond to the shooting incident at Jones Ct., but I was told "NO", they did not need me.
I knew before I called, that I would not be wanted, because the Chief and I were less than friends, but I did make the call, though I was (A COWARD AND COULD NOT ATTEND YOUR FUNERAL), I would have done anything to help you while you were in danger.
I most every day look at the flag I took from your grave and the black band I wore on my badge after your death. I have both in my gun locker along with the RAT and trap you gave me for helping you trap Ratzolla (THE DEPARTMENT RAT), we laughed and joked about that many times.
Who ever uttered "Time heals all wounds", for the first time, may not have lost a fellow Officer and friend, because it has been 32 years and it has not gotten any easier for me to write this or think about that tragic day that your life was ripped from your loved ones and Brother Officers.

Capt., Al Wilson/ Retired
Elmira City Police Captain Ret.

January 8, 2016

JOHN HAWLEY WAS NOT ONLY MY SHIFT SGT. BUT ALSO MY FRIEND AND I CAN'T BELIEVE IT IS ALMOST 32 YEARS SINCE HIS UNTIMELY PASSING. AS ONE OF OUR FIRING RANGE OFFICERS, JOHN PREACHED SAFTEY, SAFTEY AND SAFTEY TO US. I WILL NEVER FORGET JOHN AND EVERYTHING HE TAUGHT ME.

JIM COLLINS

December 17, 2015

HARD TO BELIEVE ITS BEEN NEARLY 32 YEARS SINCE JOHN WAS KILLED. JOHN WAS NOT ONLY MY SGT. BUT WAS A GOOD FRIEND AS WELL. LEARNED A LOT FROM JOHN OVER THE YEARS BUT THE ONE THING HE KEPT PREACHING TO HIS MEN WAS SAFTEY. THAT I NEVER FORGOT...RIP JOHN

P.O. JIM COLLINS (RETIRED)
ELMIRA POLICE DEPARTMENT

December 17, 2015

John was my friend and a co-worker, he will be remembered by me as one hell of a cop..We used to ride to work together and our wives were friends..John didn't have to die that fateful day...I cried that day and thinking about it still now brings tears to my eyes..

Ptl. Richard Nichoison
EPD retired

December 17, 2015

You may not want to read this, it is only a reflection to try and make my actions in this event make me feel better.

This Officer was one of my best friends, and a Brother Officer, he was shot and killed while involved in one of several SWAT actions that he had been involved in.
I, was such a coward, that I could not attend his funeral, and the "walk by review" that was attended by more than 1,400 Officers, but not me.
I took vacation time, and remained at home, not taking any calls, and talking to no-one, my wife was on a business trip in up State and she only knew that I was home and on vacation.
It took four months, before I could go to the cemetery and stand by his grave, I had no idea where he's grave was in that enormous cemetery.
I placed my beloved dog Shanna in my Jeep, and set off for the cemetery, driving through the winding roadways, I came, upon the grave of my dear friend and fellow Officer, it was just like something had guided me to the spot.
I got out of the vehicle and my dog jumped out with me, she stood at the foot of the grave only looking up at me and back at the grave, I can't say how long we remained there, but when we left I felt better, not so much of a coward as before.
I was not however, able to enter any Reflections in his memorial until December 9th., 2013, and it was real tough when I did.

Sgt., Hawley had been married, but was divorced at the time of his death, ( divorce is a occupational hazard in law enforcement ), many of us experience it, he did have a son and a daughter and he was devoted to their welfare and care, his son is now a Police Officer, but not in the same City.

Some information about Sgt., Hawley, if you are interested:

Sgt., Hawley was a 17 year member of the City Police Department and had worked the Patrol Force, on rotating shifts for most of his 17 years.
He became a member of the SWAT group around ten years after being appointed a member of the Police Force.
We, were and (he was), given a ROBIN EGG BLUE BAR WITH GOLD TRIM, to place on our, (his) BADGE BACKER, that signified membership, in SWAT. It was not something that drew your eye to it when worn, and looked for the most part unimportant, except when several Officers were being viewed, few had the little blue bar on their Badge Backers.
Officers in the SWAT group were trained in the FBI Academy, in Virginia and upon graduation we were well trained in the ways of SWAT.
Sgt., Hawley much like all of us in the SWAT group, had to have some special qualities to be a member of the team, they were, but not limited to,( be willing to take a life, but not wanting to, be in control under stress, be a expert shot and have extensive knowledge of all the weapons deployed by SWAT and be in good physical condition ), there was another qualification we joked about but knew it was not true, that was (WE HAD TO BE A FULL HALF BUBBLE OUT OF LEVEL), to go into the deadly situations that we were often asked to enter, someone would often say, "they can kill us, but they can't eat us, that is against the law".

That should give you some idea what Sgt., Hawley had in his back ground, the tragic day he lost his life on January 8th., 1984, and now if you are interested I will supply you with some details of what was in play on that same day that brought about his death.

Two men came into the City after having taken a cab from a City South East of us and tied the cab driver to a tree in a area on the East side of our City and stole his cab.
The same two men went to Jones Court Housing complex, it was a high rise brick building on the East Side of the City, that was operated by the City Housing Authority for low income residents, where one or both of the men had a female friend.
The cab driver was able to free himself and was able to get information to the City Police about his abduction and theft of his cab.
The cab was found after sometime by a Patrol Officer on the East Side parked near Jones Court, and through some good Police work the identities of the two men was found out, what was also found was the identity of the female and her apartment number in Jones Court.
Patrol Officers went to her apartment and questioned her, she denied having any contact with the two men.
Officers were again sent back to her apartment and that time they took her into Headquarters and she was questioned for sometime but refused to say the men were in her apartment, but did admit that they had been there but had left.
It was decided that there was a high risk involved with attempting to apprehend the two men, so the SWAT team was activated. Calls went out to all SWAT Officers, and Sgt., Hawley was found in Waverly New York, where he was waiting for his girlfriend to show up in a restaurant.
Sgt., Hawley told the restaurant owner Andy Quinlan, that he had to go and asked Andy to tell his girl friend (Bonnie), that he had to leave and did not know when he could be back.
Sgt., Hawley and other members showed up at HQ, and hurried to get their equipment out and get information about the incident.
Someone had called the Chief and he showed up and he and Sgt., Hawley were involved in a slight disagreement, and the Chief put a Captain in command of the SWAT group and removed Sgt., Hawley from command of the group.
I knew, and still have contact with the Captain that replaced Sgt., Hawley, I in fact, went to the FBI Academy for SWAT training with the guy when he was a Lieutenant, and found him to be a very capable leader.
The group went to Jones Court in company with a State Trooper Walt Delap and his K9 companion that was a entry dog.
Walt sent the dog into the living room and the dog made a complete sweep of the room and the team entered the living room and started down a hallway when the first shot was fired by one of the suspects. The shot was from a shotgun and the blast hit Officer Joe Marrone Sr., in the left hand rendering the hand useless.
Gunfire was exchanged between the team and the suspects and the Captain along with Walt Delap, his dog and sometime later Officer Marrone were able to escape the apartment while being given cover fire by Sgt., Hawley.
Officer Dan Collins received a wound to his leg and was also able to escape the apartment, during which time the Captain returned to the apartment armed with heavy fire power,and along with a Officer Joseph Miller Sr., who remained on the floor in the doorway of the apartment giving cover fire to all in the room, it was at this point that Sgt., Hawley was able to escape the building by going out of a window in the living room, he dropped to the ground from the first floor of the building.
Once outside of the building Sgt., Hawley gave a thumbs up and proceeded to run in a crouched position along the South wall in a Easterly direction to safety.
Sgt., Hawley had only gone a few yards when three shots rang out and the Sergeant fell to the ground, dead, shot in the head by a fellow Officer, who had been on the ground for over 45 minutes in extreme cold
temperatures. Trooper Delap removed the shotgun from the Officers grasp and told him he had just shot one of his OWN, I can not imagine how that Officer felt when the reality of what he had done finally impacted him. (remember I am the coward who could not attend the funeral of one of my best friends and Brother Officer).
I was not involved in the SWAT action that cold January 8th., 1984 morning, I was at home recovering from injuries to my left knee, that I had received while apprehending a wanted Felon who had raped a 10 old girl in another City. . I was also on the outs with the same Police Chief that had taken command from Sgt., Hawley, so not only was I a coward, I was a lucky coward.
Well as most of you Officers know and have probably experienced, you go into the bad calls and sometimes come out with a few cuts, scrapes, wounds, scratches, bite marks, broken bones and in a few days, few weeks, few months and in extreme cases a few years you go back, to the job and laugh and joke about it.
But sometimes (IT HAPPENS)... and there is nothing to laugh about and someone is not coming back to the job and this was just one of too many times that (IT) has happened.
This was a sad time for some of us, poor Dave Holmes blames himself to this day for not being able to help Sgt., Hawley and Officer Roger Struble also is haunted by the event, they also were close friends and Brother Officers of Sgt., Hawley.
Officer Joseph Marrone worked out of Traffic for me while I was a Sergeant, and though his left hand was rendered almost useless, I never heard him complain. Joe is dead now, brain cancer, I tried to spend time each day with him after I found that he was sick.
I had been promoted to Lieutenant and moved to the Patrol Force and had not seen Joe for six or so months, when by chance I heard a Traffic Sergeant and a Captain talking about my dear friend Joe Marrone. I inquired as to what was going on with Joe and was told that he had brain cancer. I would call his house every day and check with his wife to be sure he was able to have company, then one day he was sent to the hospital. Days passed then I got a call from his brother BIG MIKE, Sgt., Mike Marrone, Big Mike told me that I had to get to the Hospital if I wanted to see Joey again, went to the Hospital met Sgt., Marrone and we went into Joey's room. There was a Nurse helping Joey stand and he smiled and mumbled some words I could not understand and the Nurse helped him into a chair and he sat there looking at me with hollow blank eyes, broke my heart...Joey died with in a few days and I was tapped to carry his casket, I WAS AGAIN A COWARD, but I was able to some how get through it, that was the first and only time I say my friend Captain Nick Draghi cry, he also helped carry the casket, loss of a Brother Officer
is tough....even more so if you are a coward as I am.
Well I thought writing this would help, but I know it probably won't, no day passes that I don't at some point, think back to my two best friends and Brother Officers and how we use to laugh and joke, and now as the date of the tragic day is approaching it comes more often..loved you two guys like Brothers.

Capt., Al Wilson/ Retired
Elmira, NY City Police Dept., Capt., Ret.

December 15, 2015

Still thinking of you Pal, and how you must feel about the cover up of your death.
The guy that shot you should have never been a Police Officer and would not have been if many of us had been listened to when we voiced our objections to his lateral transfer to our Department.
John Stein and I were talking about you just yesterday and the things we said about the guy that killed you were not fit to be in your memorial.
Your good friend
Al Wilson (Capt.,Retired)

Captain retired
Elmira City Police

November 17, 2015

My sweet, handsome Uncle....the ache never goes away. I love&miss you, and hope you're happy in Heaven. Still think of you every day. Tell Mom&Dad, the Grandparents, and aunts&uncles, I love&miss you all♥ XOXOX

Toni Zamora
niece

January 11, 2014

I have in my gun locker the first flag that was placed on your grave and I look at it almost every day and think back to that tragic day some thirty years ago.
I still have the TRAP you gave me for trapping the Department RAT, I have it also in my gun locker where I often smile when I look at it and remember what we did to catch him.
It was hard to say goodbye to you pal and just as hard to write this........

Captain Al Wilson (RETIRED)
Elmira NY City Police Department

December 9, 2013

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 28th anniversary 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.

Your memory will always be honored and revered. I pray for aolace for all those who love and remember you for I know both the pain and pride are forever.


Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

January 8, 2012

My dear, sweet, handsome, smiling Uncle John....
I found out I could leave a message here from a very special young man. You've never met him, but he feels he knows you personally. That is impossible, because he wasn't born for 6years after you were gone, but from a lot of first hand accounts, and research of his own, he found this memorial page. He is a Sailor 1st class in the Navy, his name is Mario, and he's your great-nephew. You would be so very proud of him Uncle John! He's sure proud of you! I was surprised one night when a message came through in the middle of the night, and it was a picture of the Fallen Officers Memorial. He sent, hoping he wouldn't make me sad doing so. When I found all the nice comments that had been left, it made me smile...just like you always did. I miss you terribly, but know that you are with grandma&grandpa, and your favorite brothers&sister, who I miss with an ache in my heart. I say brothers because you know I'm including my dad. I love you all&miss you terribly!
Merry Christmas to all of you in Heaven xoxoxoxo

Toni Zamora(Santucci)
Niece

December 26, 2011

I said a little prayer today for Sergeant Hawley and his family. He may be gone but never forgotten. He died a New York hero.

Robyn

January 7, 2009

Thinking of John and how he changed our lives. What an awesome man he was!!

Anthony
Friend

June 19, 2008

John-Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and how much your friendship meant to me. You were one of but a few police officers who bothered to find out what was really going on with me. It was with your encouragement in the final days of your life, that I was able to gather up the courage and leave the monster that had made me his boxing partner, even though I didn't box. And you know that in today's' terms it would have been called domestic violence. You gave me the strength, as I was too timid to do anything but sit there and take it for all of those years. Lord only knows why God decided you needed to patrol the streets of gold, but I do know that you have been in heaven protecting all of my friends and relatives who are police officers, my son, who is now a federal cop and your son. Keeping all of those folks safe must keep you busy. I took loving care of your mother at the county infirmary and she always talked with pride about her son the police officer. Please know that your words of encouragement will always be what guides me in life and when I graduate from law school, it will be in my fathers memory and yours. For the officers that were there the day you lost your life, no one is to blame for your death but the lost souls who decided to commit the crimes that ended up with all of those officers being there on that frigid day in January. If it weren't for those crimes that day, you would still be here and your name wouldn't be on the wall in Washington, D.C. I'm positive that you don't blame them, so they shouldn't blame themselves. You must be up there beaming, with John John being an officer now. I haven't seen him or Tina since the last time I talked to you at the bowling alley. Your eyes used to gleam with pride as you watched them bowl. I miss you John and so do many others. Sometimes, even after all these years, when another officer is lost in vain, it brings back the hurt of loosing you just like it was yesterday. I miss you John and hope to see you in the hereafter. May God help you keep a watchful eye over all of the officers.

Tina (Peterson) Castle
Mother of Federal Police Officer

February 20, 2008

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