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Fallen Federal Way officer honored at softball tourney

The first of three charity events honoring the life of fallen Federal Way police officer Patrick Maher kicked off July 25 in Redmond.

Police, fire and emergency medical services personnel, as well as citizens, from around the Puget Sound gathered July 25, 26 and 27 to participate in the fourth annual Fallen Officer Memorial Tournament softball event. Each year, a law enforcement officer, who sacrificed his or her life to serve, honor and protect, is remembered at the softball tournament. Twenty-two teams, approximately 250 individuals, turned out for the games this year.

“It’s not necessarily about competition,” Mike Garske, King County Sheriff’s Office detective and event director, said. “It’s about honoring the officers.”

An opening ceremony complete with a honor guard, bag pipes, motorcycle escorts, helicopter and guest speakers jump-started this year’s tournament. Maher’s personal friend and former coworker, Jim Nelson, spoke briefly about his lost friend.

“I heard other people talk about Patrick and his family; It was really moving,” Garske said. “We kind of get choked up just talking about it.”

Nelson and Maher both came to Federal Way from Hawaii to work with the Federal Way police department in 2003.

“His actions saved lives,” Nelson said.

Maher died in the line of duty five years ago from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. After witnessing a dispute between three individuals in a convenience store parking lot, Maher broke up the fight and took pursuit of one man who fled the scene on foot.

He caught up to the man and became involved in a struggle with him. The man grabbed Maher’s firearm and pointed it at the two other individuals. Maher, in an attempt to disarm the suspect, lunged at him and was shot.

He later died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The suspect pled guilty to the crime and in December 2005 was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

Maher was 46 at the time of his death and had served as an officer for eight years. He had been with Federal Way police for approximately seven months.

“When a police officer is killed it’s tragic all the way around,” Nelson said. “He could have turned and ran but he chose to put himself between two strangers and a man with a gun. That’s damn heroic.”

Maher is the fourth officer to have been honored at the annual softball tournament. It began as a way for the King County Sheriff’s Office softball team to have fun, Garske said. The first year the tournament took place, it was dedicated to a fallen officer. The tradition has carried on since that time.

“Our criteria for picking officers is kind of loose,” Garske said. “Basically, we want to just reach out to the families of the officers that were murdered in the line of duty.”

This was the first year Nelson and Federal Way participated in the tournament. Police plan to partake again next year.

Maher’s wife, Renee, attended each day of the event. Following a golf tournament in October and a silent auction in November, the proceeds from the three fund raisers will be given to the Maher family.

Contact Jacinda Howard at: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

F.Y.I.:

A short memorial will be held in Patrick Maher’s honor at noon August 2 at Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S., where Maher’s badge is displayed in a stone near the American flag.

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