Watertown police officers Miguel Colon and Richard Munger received a dose of warm southern hospitality earlier this month in a trip to Georgia arranged by policemen there. It was the first out-of-state visit the officers have made in relation to April’s terrorism events.
They were flown down to Georgia on Friday, May 31 and stayed through Sunday, June 2 on funds raised by the LaGrange Police Department in Troup County, where the Watertown officers were the guests of honor at a charity run benefitting The One Fund Boston.
Colon and Munger, in white, got a surprise tour of of the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Fieldbefore catching a game.
Pictured: Munger, LaGrange police officers Garrett Pressley, Ley Wynne, and Sgt. Marshall McCoy, Erin Sheehan, of the Atlanta Braves’ guest services department, and Colon.
The two officers also met the Braves’ general manager, Fredi Gonzalez, and gave him the police-specific “Watertown Strong” shirt that raises funds for the Watertown Police Foundation.
“While I was watching a Braves post-game program the other day, there was an interview with Fredi Gonzalez and he was wearing the shirt,” said LaGrange officer Garrett Pressley, who helped organize the southern visit.
Colon and Munger were the guests of honor at a charity run, “Runners United to Remember,” that was organized by Pressley and other LaGrange Police Department officers and supporters.
Their appearance at the charity run drew a record crowd: nearly 200 runners sprinted down the race course, and another 500 people came to watch and meet the Watertown officers.
In total, the LaGrange Police Department expects to donate about $6,000 to The One Fund Boston.
More than 20 other businesses, including a company run by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, sponsored the event by donating about $200 each.
“That was the main reason we wanted to get somebody from up there down here,” Pressley said, who also noted a LaGrange police officer who originally hailed from Boston helped inspire him to co-organize the event. “In the first week, we raised $150 from pre-registration. Once the announcement was made that they [the Watertown officers] were coming, online registration made over $1,000, and people kept calling the station to tell us how proud they were.”
Pressley said he hopes the department will fly a LaGrange officer up to Massachusetts to present Boston officials with the check.
LaGrange City Councilman Jim Thornton introduced the city’s mayor’s proclamations to Colon and Munder during the race event. The proclamations were the highest honors the mayor could bestow upon the two officers, Pressley said. Next
LaGrange police officers also gave Colon and Munger a plaque commemorating the Watertown Police Department‘s actions during the events that unfolded on April 19.
Colon was reportedly involved in the gunfight between Watertown police and Boston Marathon bombing suspect brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After Tamerlan Tsarnaev died of injuries from the shootout, police and federal agents embarked on a city-wide manhunt in Watertown for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found while Munger was on shift.
The plaque for the Watertown Police Department is inscribed with “A Police Officer’s Prayer.” Next
Colon and Munger were also awarded their own wooden commemorative plaques by the LaGrange Police Department. Next
Besides visiting LaGrange, Colon and Munger toured to other various local police departments around Troup County in Georgia, including county sheriff’s headquarters.
Pictured: Colon and Munger with Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff.
The two Watertown officers also received a boat tour of West Point Lake, a local body of water that Pressley said covers about half of Troup County.
Pictured: County Sheriff James Woodruff with Colon and Munger.
In addition to reduced air packages donated by local travel agents, which were paid for by funds raised by LaGrange police, Colon and Munger received complimentary hotel rooms from the local Best Western and free meals from restaurants like this beloved burger joint, Charlie Joseph’s.
“Our goal was for them not to have to spend a dime while down here,” Pressley said.
While in Georgia, Colon and Munger gave PowerPoint presentations to local police officers about the gunfight events, which Colon took part in, and the day-long manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Next
Although certain details from the presentation were for police eyes only, Pressley said Colon and Munger showed maps of what happened and how close they were to the action.
“[Colon] reconstructed the events that happened [during the gunfight] in his own words, since he was one of the officers at the shooting,” Pressley said. “He said they exchanged about 200 rounds of gunfire, and the brothers threw five IEDs at police, and that three of them detonated. He also said there were a few times where there was a pause, but that’s when they [the Tsanaev brothers] began throwing bombs.”
Pictured: Colon uses a GoogleMaps rendering to show how he arrived on the scene of the gunfight in the early hours of Friday, April 19.
One thing the southern police officers really enjoyed was Colon and Munger’s thick Boston accents, Pressley said. Laughing, he added that a local reporter misunderstood Colon’s description of Franklin Street—where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found—as a “main street” of Watertown, which the reporter printed as a “mean street.”
“We loved the Boston accents,” Pressley said.
And following their visit, he said Colon and Munger have made friends in Georgia for life.
“We stay in touch—we text each other, we’re real close now,” Pressley said, also noting that they’re now friends on Facebook, too. “We would like to come up there and spend time with those guys, with the new friends we met.”
Pictured: Major Charles Nixon, Richard Munger, Ley Wynne, Garrett Pressley, Deputy Stewart Smith and Miguel Colon
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