Updated 01/16/2013 05:14 PM
Former North Country firefighter killed in California
It's often called a brotherhood. No matter where they serve or which departments they're with, first responders, like police, fire and EMTs share a bond. A police officer killed in California Tuesday only spent a couple of years working in the North Country, but as our Brian Dwyer reports, in that time, he made a huge impact.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- From all accounts, if you were in need, Kevin Tonn would be the guy you wanted there to help.
"Bend over backwards kind of guy," Fort Drum Fire Captain Matt Woodward said. "He'll give you the shirt of his back. Real go getter and a great guy."
"Kevin was the right hand man," Tonn's friend Howard Robinson said. “He was always there when needed and even when he wasn't needed, he was always there."
He was needed Tuesday morning. As a K-9 officer, Tonn was investigating a burglary in California. One witness pointed out a possible suspect. Tonn questioned that person. A struggle broke out and Tonn was shot. The suspect then killed himself. Tonn died at a nearby hospital.
"He was truly a very nice man, very dedicated," Tonn's former Supervisor, Fort Drum Assistant Chief of Training George Massarotti said.
Shocking news on Fort Drum and in the North Country. Tonn began his career as a military police officer on Drum. In 2003, he joined Fort Drum's fire department. Serving until 2005, when he decided to go back home to California.
"Anytime you wanted to call upon him for anything, he'd be the first one to stop and say, 'I'll do it. Whatever it is, I'll do it.' Extra classes, extra work, extra training, he'd stand right up and do it," Massarotti added.
In addition to his duties on Fort Drum, Tonn also served as a volunteer in Philadelphia for the fire department and ambulance squad. It's that kind of dedication to community service that the folks who worked with him say will be his long lasting legacy.
"While Kevin was in our department, he did whatever he could. He went above and beyond the call of duty," Robinson said, adding that Tonn was really helpful with the Philly Fire Department's finances and grant writing.
"We're all a big family here," Woodward said. "We live together every other day. This is our second family and we treat each other that way. If it hurts one, it's going to hurt all of us."
Kevin Tonn was just 35.
If you're interested in sending condolences, you can do so to the address below, in care of Galt's Police Chief William Bowen:
Galt Police Department
455 Industrial Drive
Galt, CA 95632