Berrien County holds vigil for bailiffs killed last year

Jul 12, 2017


Local police officers salute during taps at a vigil for two bailiffs that were killed last year. Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at Lake Bluff Park, St.Joseph, Mich.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

Community members gathered in St. Joseph on Tuesday, July 11, to remember the lives of two Berrien County court officers who were killed while on duty last year.

The ceremony focused heavily on the lives of the bailiffs, Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro, who were shot when an inmate overpowered a deputy and got ahold of his gun.

The crowd gathers before the memorial walk at the Courthouse in St. Joseph, Mich. Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

  Judge Gary Bruce shared stories about the two men and spoke about the impact the shooting had on the courthouse and the community.

“Basically it’s like any other job. We interact with our co-workers, we go home to our families and always with the expectation that tomorrow is going to be the same. And then we found out on July 11, 2016 our lives were forever changed.”

Bruce said he was gratified by the continued support the community has for the courthouse and local law enforcement.

Laura Masters handed out blue ribbons with the Fraternal Order of Police of Berrien County. She said the vigil was not only about remembering the lives of two fallen officers, but also to remember that bad things happen in small towns.


Katelyn Brown gets a ride before the memorial walk. Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

“Letting people remember that this can happen no matter what kind of community you live in, you know, we’re the type of town where you say, something like that can never happen here, and it can.”

More than 300 people walked from the courthouse to the Law Enforcement Officers memorial at Lake Bluff Park where there was a candlelight ceremony with speeches, songs and prayers.