(Memphis) March 8, 2000 was anything, but an ordinary day for the men and women who risk their lives everyday with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Memphis Fire Department.
Alvin Benson is director of the Memphis Fire Department, “I don’t think there’s been a more tragic day in the history of the city, but of the department that I’m aware of.”
That was the day two firefighters, Javier Lerma and William Blakemore and Sheriff’s Deputy Rupert Peete were ambushed by a gunman and fellow firefighter, Fred Williams, as they arrived at a burning house in Southeast Memphis.
Williams’ wife, Stacey, had also been murdered.
Deputy Peete was responding to the scene and was shot while getting out of his patrol car.
“I never will forget it. Not only was Deputy Peete killed in that incident, but we had two firefighters also killed and there was another life lost,” Benson said.
Thirteen years have passed since that horrific day, but the memories of Deputy Peete have not been forgotten.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Class is dedicating a section of Forest Hill-Irene Road near Highway 385 to the memory of Deputy Peete and his service.
Mary Peete is the deputy’s widow.
She said it’s a fitting tribute to her husband, “This is a unique opportunity for our family to have my husband, Rupert, honored by having a name placement in his honor for what he had done for our community. Of course, he gave my life.”
Deputy Peete’s youngest daughter, Rachel, was only five years old when she and her two sisters lost her dad.
“Still meeting police officers who say your dad was a great man. It just reminds me I am proud of my dad even though i didn’t get to know him that much,” Rachel Peete said.
Now one section of road will help preserve the legacy of a husband, father and deputy who risked his life for his community and a hope that his widow has for other fallen officers, “I hope and pray that all of our fallen officer whether Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Memphis Police Department or whatever that something can be done so their memories can live forever for what they’ve done.”
The ceremony for Deputy Peete is scheduled for noon, March 9 at Forest Hill-Irene near Highway 385