RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Five years ago today, Virginia State Police Trooper Chad Dermyer was gunned down while on duty at the Greyhound Bus Station in Richmond. It’s a day Dermyer’s State Police Unit will never forget and for Dermyer’s father, it was the worst day of his life.
“I wish I could forget that day,” said John Dermyer.
Today, John Dermyer wears a shirt with his son’s badge number 756 every single day.
The father of the fallen state trooper said he has about 200 of them.
“I figured I am going to wear them every day until the day I die,” He said. “I have a lot of pride in what Chad did in his short life.”
37-year-old Trooper Chad Dermyer was at the Greyhound Bus Station participating in a classroom training designed to teach troopers how to detect suspicious activity when he was shot and killed.
“The first shot that was fired was directly at the Trooper,” said State Police Spokesperson Corinne Geller said on scene that day.
Dermyer, who had just joined the department’s counter-terrorism unit, had only been talking with a man, who we now know had a lengthy criminal record, for a few minutes before he pulled out a gun and shot the trooper.
“This is one of the saddest days in the City of Richmond that I have ever seen,” said Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell that day.
The loss of Dermyer weighs heavy at the Virginia State Police Headquarters in Richmond.
“Five years is a significant anniversary, but really we don’t ever forget about him,” said State Police Captain Cliff Kincaid.
Kincaid drove Dermyer’s car back from the bus station and parked it in front of State Police Headquarters in the trooper’s memory. Law enforcement and community members placed flowers on the car, turning it into a makeshift memorial.
Dermyer’s portrait now hangs in the State Police Memorial Gallery. Kincaid remembered when Dermyer first interviewed for the counter-terrorism unit. He said he was so approachable that he really stood out.
“He’s all we were talking about for two months,” “Kincaid said. “He made such a good impression everybody couldn’t wait for him to come to the unit.”
Shortly after graduating from the State Police Academy, Dermyer pulled over a mustang. His intuition led to the arrest of Tonya Slaton and the discovery of her son’s remains. He had been missing for more than a decade. Slaton later pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Dermyer’s father remembers when he made that arrest. He said, “He called me right after he figured out what was going on in that.”
Kincaid said. “He saw a stain or something or a bleach spot in the backseat of the car and it just didn’t ring right. He had skills to know that a situation maybe just wasn’t right,” said Kincaid.
The Trooper and former Newport News Police Officer, known for his big smile, loved to interact with the community and play ball with the neighborhood kids. Family and fellow officers share stories of him buying candy bars for children with their parent’s permission. Kincaid told 8News he just seemed to understand people and have the ability to communicate with them as well.
After his death, there was an outpouring of support from the community. A Richmond company put up a billboard in his memory. T-shirts bearing his name raised more than $100,000 dollars for Dermyer’s family. He left behind a wife and two kids.
In 2017, a Newport News bridge was renamed after the fallen trooper. Thousands attended his funeral to remember a life taken too soon.
“The state of Virginia through that whole thing was absolutely phenomenal,” said Dermyer’s Dad.
He said he now has about 2,000 Facebook friends just from Virginia so he can see why his son loved the state.
Dermyer’s dad also told us his grandkids, Chad’s children, are living with a new normal.