Chief Doug Muldoon and members of the police department honored the memories of two Palm Bay Police officers killed in the line of duty 27-years ago. Officers Gerald Johnson and Ronald Grogan were killed by a gunman who went on a shooting rampage that also killed four citizens and wounded 14 others on April 23, 1987. During a special memorial ceremony held Wednesday morning members of the police department Honor Guard carried wreaths of flowers and placed them at a memorial at Sacrifice Park located across the street from the police department next to the Degroodt Library. The park features a monument bearing the names of the fallen officers. There is also a monument with the names of the citizens killed during the incident.
During the afternoon hours on April 23, 1987 Officers Johnson and Grogan were the first to respond to reports of a gunman on a shooting rampage at the Winn Dixie shopping plaza on Babcock Street. The suspect took hostages at the supermarket. As Officer Grogan arrived at the scene, the suspect opened fire on him, killing him before he was able to exit his patrol car. Officer Johnson was able to exit his vehicle and return fire before being struck in the foot and knocked down. As he was reloading, the suspect approached and shot him at point-blank range. The incident lasted more than eight hours before the suspect was taken into custody. “That was without a doubt our darkest day as a city,” Chief Doug Muldoon wrote in an e-mail to department employees. “I would like all of you to reflect on the sacrifices of these two Palm Bay Officers and always remember they gave their lives so many others could escape.” Years later the suspect was sentenced to death. In 2009, while awaiting his execution, the suspect died in prison from natural causes at the age of 82.