Gregory Holley was also an avid sports fan, his family said. Jonathan Holley remembers going to the Detroit Tigers game when Holley was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch as the agent in charge of ATF’s Detroit field office. He and his brother, Joshua, around age 8 or 9 at the time, were excited to go onto the field.
They knew their father, who spent time in the yard playing catch, had a good arm. But with TV cameras rolling and all eyes on him, his pitch plopped well short, dribbling sadly to the catcher.
“I look at my dad and I say, ‘Are you serious, how do you throw the ball in the dirt?’ Jonathan Holley recalled. “He just looked at me and gave me one of his famous laughs and after a while he just said, ‘I don’t know, man.’ ”
Christopher said that service runs through their family’s generations. His father was a decorated officer in the Illinois Army National Guard. After he retired from the military after 24 years in 2004, he started in law enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service. He later moved to the ATF and worked in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and the District, authorities said.
Leon Hammond, a former Marine who worked with Holley at New Life Anointed Ministries International church in Woodbridge, said his friend’s death felt to him like when President John F. Kennedy was shot — there was a visceral reaction from the church and law enforcement community.
The two had adjacent offices, he said, and often talked five times a day. “It still hurts,” he said.
Bishop Eugene Reeves, the founder and leader of the 3,000-member New Life church, said Holley was a co-worker, congregant and close friend. Reeves helped deliver the news of Holley’s death to his two younger sons.
Reeves said that if the shooter didn’t encounter Holley — police say the alleged killer was mostly out to rob somebody — another person could have been killed.
“Maybe his last great act was, in fact, saving somebody else,” Reeves said.