Thousands of people, including law enforcement officers, family and many from the community who did not know her, turned out Tuesday to pay respects to slain Prince William County police officer Ashley Guindon, who was shot and killed just one day after she was sworn in.
Before the viewing began at 10 a.m. at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, a long line of officers wearing dress uniforms stretched around the chapel. A massive American flag strung from the ladders of two firetrucks hung over one entrance to the chapel parking lot.
At another, mounted officers lined the route beneath cloudless blue skies. Near the chapel’s entrance, K-9 units stood ready with their handlers. At 10 a.m., bells rang, and officers began quietly filing into the chapel for Guindon’s viewing.
During the service that followed, Prince William County Police Chief Stephan M. Hudson cited Guindon’s “amazing drive and intelligence and passion.”
“She had accomplished more in 28 years than I think I could in 100,” Hudson said. “That was her desire: to serve, to be involved in the things that mattered, to give her life to something worth giving it to. And that’s exactly what she did.”
“Hold each other up,” he told the officers in the crowd. “Hold up the Guindon family. And keep that memory of Ashley forever by your heart.”
Guindon was killed on her first day on the street when she and two fellow officers were dispatched to a Woodbridge home late Saturday afternoon for a domestic dispute. Ronald Williams Hamilton, 32, an Army staff sergeant, allegedly opened fire on Guindon and the two other officers as they approached the front door to his and wife’s home.
Guindon died of her wounds; the two other officers were shot but are expected to recover. Hamilton’s wife, Crystal Hamilton, 29, who had called 911, was found dead in the home and was shot before officers arrived. Their 11-year-old son, who celebrated his birthday Wednesday, had sprinted to a neighbor’s home.
Hamilton was arraigned Monday and is being held without bold. Prince William County’s chief prosecutor Paul Ebert is pursuing a capital murder charge, which may carry the death penalty.
For Tuesday’s memorial, officers came from around the Washington area and as far away as Florida, New York and Massachusetts. Deputies were there from Harford County, Md., where two officers where fatally shot in the line of duty just last month.
Officer Jason White, a member of the Hopkinsville, Ky., police department, drove 10 hours through the night to get there.
White said he was a former Prince William police officer and knew the two officers who were injured in the shooting that claimed Guindon’s life. “I have tons of emotions right now,” he said. “I lost a ton of friends in the military. It was heartbreaking I wasn’t there.”
John Kerr, a retired FBI agent from Woodbridge, was one of about 10 members of the Strength & Honor Motorcycle Club who showed up clad in leathers and chains, and with their motorcycles. Many in the group, made of up active-duty and retired police and military officers, took time off work.
“It’s such a tragedy for the family to go through on the first day, the first hour,” Kerr said. “We wanted them to know they are not alone.”
Guindon, who grew up in New Hampshire, began her career with the Prince William police department as an intern in its Special Victims Unit before graduating from the academy in June. After a leave of absence, she was sworn in on Feb. 26.
Guindon also harbored dreams of becoming a pilot. As a Marine Corps reservist, she piloted a helicopter and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
Guindon also spent much of her time volunteering, including with a suicide prevention program. Her father, David Guindon, killed himself shortly after he returned home from a six-month deployment in Iraq in 2004.
During the service, Denny Glusko, the police department’s chaplain, praised Guindon’s “willingness” to risk her life in the face of “wickedness.”
“She had a willingness for that 11-year-old boy in that home, a willingness to give her life for that child,” he said.
At 1:47 p.m., as the service concluded, the leader of a bagpipe corps shouted “Going Home!” and roughly two dozen bagpipers struck up the tune. About 3,500 people attended the funeral. Many more gathered outside the chapel to see Guindon off.
Five minutes later, color guards snapped to attention and raised their flags. Dozens of Prince William police officers stood at salute, and many civilians placed their hands over their hearts.
Then slowly, pallbearers wheeled Guindon’s casket to a waiting hearse. The officer’s mother, Sharon Guindon, and other family walked alongside them. As the crowd stood silent for several minutes, the only sound was the crack of flags flapping in a stiff breeze.
Members of Guindon’s family hugged Prince William officers.
Then, the “last call” went out for Guindon over a loudspeaker: “Prince William calling 1145. This is the final call for Officer 1145 Ashley Guindon. . . . May you rest in peace. All clear 13:58 hours.”
One Prince William officer standing at salute cried softly. A woman in the crowd dabbed at her eye with a tissue, and others stood with their arms draped over loved ones for support.
The bagpipe corps played “Amazing Grace,” and the slow procession from the chapel began.
Dozens of motorcycle officers turned on their engines and lights. Guindon’s family made their way to their cars and the hearse advanced down the route lined by color guards.