President Obama called the widow of the Texas sheriff’s deputy who was fatally shot last week to offer his condolences and condemn any violence against police officers.
Darren Goforth, a sheriff’s deputy in Harris County, was shot and killed Friday at a gas station in suburban Houston. Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman called the shooting “an unprovoked, execution-style killing of a police officer,” saying that the gunman came up behind Goforth as he pumped gas and opened fire.
Obama called Kathleen Goforth, the deputy’s widow, on Monday while he was traveling to Alaska, according to a statement from the White House. During the call, Obama said he offered her prayers on the loss of “a veteran law enforcement officer who was contemptibly shot and killed.”
He went on to decry any violence against officers, saying that Americans must stand up for the safety of police across the country.
“I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day,” Obama said in the statement. “They put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable — an affront to civilized society.”
After the shooting, authorities in Harris County linked Goforth’s death to ongoing protest movement criticizing how police officers use lethal force. Hickman, the sheriff, said the “rhetoric had gotten out of control,” although he later said police were “still searching to find out if that’s actually a motive.”
Fewer police officers are shot and killed each year, statistics show, but as the protest movement has surged over the past year, current and former law enforcement officials have said they are concerned the heightened atmosphere presents an increased danger to police. In quickly tying the shooting to the protests, Hickman tapped into a larger sentiment among police officers worried about the tense atmosphere.
Over the weekend, authorities arrested Shannon J. Miles, 30, and charged him with capital murder. Miles was arraigned Monday. Devon Anderson, the Harris County district attorney, said Miles “unloaded [his] entire pistol into Deputy Goforth” during the shooting.
Goforth’s funeral has been scheduled for Friday morning at a Baptist church in Houston.