An Ohio police officer killed in the line of duty on the Fourth of July had one last message for his loved ones: “Tell my family I loved them.”
Jayme Dia, the wife of Toledo officer Anthony Dia, said he made the remark into his radio after being struck by gunfire outside of a Home Depot store early Saturday.
The 26-year-old cop was responding to a call about an intoxicated man in the store's parking lot and when he "approached the male to check his safety,” that individual turned around and fired a single bullet from a handgun, police say, citing witnesses.
“He bled out, pretty much. They did what they could with lifesaving measures, but there was nothing they could do,” Jayme Dia told the Toledo Blade newspaper, describing how Anthony had been rushed to a local hospital by responding officers.
“The last thing he said over the radio was, ‘Tell my family I love them,’” she added. “He lived for his family, and he loved, just loved, being a police officer.”
Police say the suspect in the shooting, identified by the media as Edward Henry, fled into a wooded area and was later found dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
Dia had joined the department in 2018 and has become its 31st officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Toledo Police Chief George Kral said his death is a “sad day for the City of Toledo, it’s a sad day for the Toledo Police Department, and most importantly it’s a sad day for the family, friends, loved ones, and fellow officers of Ofc. Anthony Dia, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting his city.”
The city’s mayor, Wade Kapszukiewicz, was quoted by the Toledo Blade as saying Saturday that ”to my dying day, I will never forget the sight of Officer Dia being wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney, his body wrapped in an American flag, flanked by about 30 Toledo police officers saluting and weeping.”
Dia leaves behind his family -- a wife and two sons, ages 8 and 6 -- the newspaper adds. Barbie Rudess, a family friend, said he enjoyed teaching his sons how to wrestle and was good working with children and animals.
And in addition to that, she says, he was proud of being a police officer.
“He had such a passion for it, and he cared. He really cared,” Rudess told the Toledo Blade. “With him being Muslim, he experienced some tough times, but he loved all. It did not matter what race, what anything. He just loved all and loved everyone.”