Richmond Police Dept. feels support from community and beyond after officer shot

·7 min read

RICHMOND, Ind. — Madi Deshields handed Ashley Jordan a couple of "Prayers for Seara" signs about 9:30 Friday morning.

Jordan came to the Primex Plastics facility at 400 Industrial Parkway to support Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton, who remained in critical condition after being shot in the head Wednesday night.

"It's nice to see the community all coming together to give her support," said Jordan, who works with officers in her current job with Centerstone and worked with them when employed by Reid Health.

A steady stream of people picked up the plastic yard signs as more were produced inside the plant. A Richmond firefighter grabbed enough signs for each fire station, and a Richmond Community Schools employee did the same for every school.

Doug Borgsdorf, the business unit director for Primex, said he was on the phone at 2:30 a.m. Thursday to initiate the project, saying Primex would print signs until the plastics company ran out of plastic.

Madi Deshields of Primex Plastics hands "Prayers for Seara" signs to Ashley Jordan on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.
Madi Deshields of Primex Plastics hands "Prayers for Seara" signs to Ashley Jordan on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

"We had to do something to keep her in front of everybody," Borgsdorf said about Burton. "She can't hear us, but maybe if the community is loud enough, she can."

Inside, Sara McIntosh fed plastic into a machine.

"I feel happy and good that we're able to help out and support the local officers," she said.

On the machine's other side, Brooklyn Goforth pulled out the printed signs and stacked them, ready to resupply the distribution table outside the plant. About 600 already had been handed out for free.

"Oh, I love it," she said about the project. "It shows we're not just here to put all our time into work, but we care about what we do and who we do it for."

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Primex already had provided 200 yard signs to RPD in addition to bigger signs for the police station and for Burton's alma mater, Northeastern High School.

Perhaps the biggest sign hangs atop The Leland Legacy. The "Seara" sign faces west atop downtown's tallest building. In addition, Morrisson-Reeves Library's digital sign rotated "RPD Strong" among its messages.

Those are among the most visible ways the community has shown support; however, there also are social media posts, hashtags, fundraisers, cards, a Blue Friday initiative and a planned prayer vigil Friday night.

More:Attempted murder charges filed against Richmond man for shooting of RPD officer

In a social media post, RPD Chief Mike Britt acknowledged how much the support means to his officers.

"Let me also mention the selfless outpouring of support, not only by our law enforcement brothers and sisters, but the outpouring of support from many members of our community, including local businesses. It has been truly heart- warming to witness the things I’ve seen and heard of today," Britt wrote Thursday night. "This truly defines our communities' interest in the well-being of their first responders and fellow citizens. For this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

"I have been asked many times in the last 24 hours 'what do you need' and 'what can I do to help.' All of our immediate needs have been met. What we need the most is your prayers for our brave officer who is suffering at this moment.

"Obviously, Richmond Indiana, is a community that cares, and I thank you! We will all get through this."

Britt also mentioned the support of the Indiana State Police and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office assisting with city calls as officers receive time to handle such a traumatic event. The additional state and county manpower keeps the city fully covered by law enforcement.

Mayor Dave Snow, as well, posted on social media to show his appreciation for support the city has received.

"Officer Burton, her family, the Richmond Police Department, and our city team have received a tremendous outpouring of love and support from this community, local and state elected officials, and citizens from other cities around Indiana," Snow wrote. "We thank everyone for your continued prayers and messages of solidarity and comfort. It means a lot right now, and we know our police department will continue to need your kindness in the days to come.

"Officer Burton is a brave young officer who put her life on the line daily so all of us could live in a safer community. Right now, she is in a difficult fight, and we are all fighting with her. If you are privileged to know Officer Burton, you know she is a strong, resilient woman, and it’s her strength and your prayers that will give her the best chance to win this fight."

Community support was obvious Friday morning at the Richmond Municipal Building. A large "Pray for Seara" sign was on the northeast corner, and the large Primex sign on the southeast corner. A Richmond Fire Department aerial ladder extended over a driveway with an American flag draped from the bucket, which had a "Praying for Seara" sign attached.

A prayer board has been erected along the sidewalk near the police station entrance. Anyone is invited to pray for Burton and attach a blue-and-white ribbon to the board. Flowers, a stuffed animal and a figurine of praying hands have been placed beneath the prayer board.

In the parking lot, RPD cars have "Pray for Seara" stickers attached to windows.

Inside the building, the Richmond City Employees Federal Credit Union is collecting donations for Burton and her family, which includes another RPD officer. Checks should be made payable to "Blue Angels," and Venmo information is available in a Facebook post.

Other fundraisers announced on social media include a Smiley's Pub & Beer Garden golf tournament Sunday and Anytime Fitness collecting donations Saturday morning and Tuesday evening.

Richmond Community Schools Superintendent Curtis Wright announced Blue Friday for RCS, encouraging students, staff and community members to wear blue rather than the traditional Friday red-and-white attire. Other county school districts quickly joined the initiative, and anyone attending Friday night's vigil was encouraged to wear blue, as well.

"We extend our thoughts and prayers to Officer Burton and her family and others during these troubling times," Wright said in a video announcement of Blue Friday. "To our courageous first responders, RCS will always stand with you just as you have always stood with us."

Burton is a 2012 graduate of Northeastern High School, which received a large Primex sign. Superintendent Matthew Hicks also released a school district statement and distributed comments about Burton from school personnel.

"At Northeastern, we take pride in our graduates, especially those who go into helping professions like law enforcement," the statement read. "Our hearts go out to Seara Burton, her family and friends, and her fiancée. In her time at Northeastern, she left a strong impression."

Among the six staff memories were:

  • “I am not surprised Seara was in law enforcement. She was a sweet little girl, who always had a smile. She was a great friend to others, and could always hold her own,” from fifth-grade teacher Sarah Moore.

  • “She was well-liked by both her peers and teachers. She had a friendly, outgoing personality. She was a fierce competitor on the basketball court, and I have no doubt that she is fighting for her life with the same ferocity,” from Mark Kerkhoff of the high school's Project Lead the Way.

  • “Seara was the embodiment of 'team player.' As a Lady Knight basketball player, she knew when to step up as a leader, and when to step back and support her teammates. She had an infectious smile and a kind heart. Everyone called her friend,” from Melissa Lawson, a high school English teacher.

The Girl Scouts of Wayne County, a group next week being honored with an Athena Leadership Award, on Thursday made and delivered cards for Burton and other RPD officers. They also put together a care basket for Burton's K-9 partner, Brev.

Social media platforms highlighted these efforts and more, as well as delivering messages of support from law enforcement agencies, community members and others from near and far. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was among those offering prayers on social media.

Many posts included hashtags, such as #PrayforSeara and #SearaStrong.

This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: RPD feels support from community and beyond after officer shot