Ashley Guindon: a PWC hero

In memory of a fallen Prince William County police officer

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Ashley Guindon: a PWC hero

Kelly Cooke and Maggie Chi

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February 26, 2016 is a day that will live in infamy amongst Prince William County Police. Ashley Guindon, a 28-year-old Prince William County rookie police officer, was fatally shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute call on her first day on the job. The call was placed by the shooter’s wife, who was also killed in the incident. Officers Guindon, Hempen, and McKeown attempted to enter the house, however, Ronald Hamilton refused their entry. When kicking down the door, Hamilton was readily armed with an AK-47 rifle and began to open fire on the officers, who were all shot. Luckily, Hempen and McKeown survived with serious injuries and were able to testify at the trial, ultimately allowing Hamilton to be charged with capital murder. Unfortunately, the injuries Guindon sustained during the incident cost her the ultimate sacrifice: her life.

On February 29, 2016, a tribute was held in Guindon’s honor, lighting up the night sky in a flood of red and blue siren lights as hundreds of officers participated in a police procession, escorting the fallen hero to the Woodbridge chapel. The very next day, March 1, 2016, Guindon’s funeral took place. According to Fox 5 local news, Police officers, motorcycle units, honor guards and ceremonial rifle units all stood at attention in formation outside the Woodbridge church.” Over 3,000 people attended to mourn and show their support.

Ashley Guindon’s passion went beyond her police work, as she also served in the US Marine Corps Reserve and volunteered in soup kitchens. PWC Police Chief, Steve Hudson, spoke during Guindon’s funeral. “Ashley will never leave you. She will be a part of your life for the remainder of it. Her strength will inspire you. Her passion and drive will keep you moving day in and day out, helping you get through these painful days and weeks and months with a positive memory of her and the warmth of knowing what she strove to do in her life.” His message remained heartfelt through and through, putting his emphasis on Guindon’s selfless sacrifice.

The death of Guindon has sparked a social media movement. Officers are standing in solidarity with Guindon across not only PWC, but also across the country and the world by posting their own first-day pictures. These photos, posted by officers of all demographics, are almost all captioned, “In honor of Ashley Guindon,” and are followed by details of the day itself, acting as a representation of how Guindon’s day should have gone, and the growth she would have experienced throughout her career. Former Sheriff and Battlefield High school Criminal Justice instructor, John Chrisinger, commented on his first day as an officer, saying that it was, Busy and a blur.” Chrisinger added that, “When you’re the new guy you’re listening and paying attention to what’s going on around you. At times it is overwhelming, but no different than most jobs.” His account, though common, was tragically not the case on Guindon’s first day.

Battlefield’s School Resource Officer, Kristina Sheldon spoke about the tremendous impact the shooting has had, stating that, PWC always changes when something happens to one of our own. It makes the entire force realize that we are not invincible.” She goes into depth, expressing how it saddens the force, “The Police family runs deep and it doesn’t matter if you just started the job or you have been on the job for 25 years, we all have one thing in common: protecting each other and the citizens we serve. I do think that time heals but it is something that you will never forget.” This story has reached millions and many can agree that this will leave a significant mark on the community.

Guindon’s death has deeply affected her family. In court, Sharon Guindon addressed Hamilton about the sorrow she has faced, “Ronald Hamilton, you not only killed my daughter, you killed me too.” Her mother has continued to face hardships and struggles regarding her daughter’s death and so has the PWC community as a whole. Although Ashley Guindon left us too soon, she will live on within our hearts.