|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Fallen rookie officer touched many lives
Seattle Times staff reporter
The mementos left at the corner of 23rd Avenue South and East Yesler Way underscored how one man can touch the lives of people he's never met.
Amid the bouquets of white gladioluses, lilies and purple chrysanthemums were notes, some from friends, but many from people rookie Officer Joselito Barber had never met. All paid tribute to a man who died just months after realizing his dream of becoming a Seattle police officer.
On Monday afternoon, Barber's friends and family — including seven former co-workers from his days as a loss-prevention officer at the Seattle Home Depot — clustered around the sidewalk memorial. They added an orange Home Depot apron to the memorial, a teddy bear and photos. They held each other, cried and reminisced.
"He loved his job so much," said his uncle Edwin Barber. "He's a good boy. A good boy."
Barber, 26, was alone on duty at 23rd and Yesler early Sunday when an SUV, traveling 80 mph, sailed through the red light and broadsided his patrol car. Barber died instantly. The 31-year-old driver of the SUV, identified as Mary Jane Rivas, was arrested and taken to the hospital with a broken leg and other injuries.
Barber grew up in Seattle, graduated from O'Dea High School in 1998 and the University of Washington in 2004. He was engaged to be married. "We are extremely proud of him," said another uncle, Ron Barber. "He will be sadly missed by his family."
Barber always wanted to be a police officer and graduated from the academy five months ago.
"He was always talking about that," said Pilar Kunzelman, who worked with him at Home Depot.
"I don't think you ever saw him in a bad mood," said Home Depot employee Charlotte Dean through tears. "He always smiled" and kidded his co-workers, especially after he arrested shoplifters.
"He'd say, 'When are you girls going to do your job?' " Dean said. "We were so proud of him."
"He was very levelheaded," said his former partner at the store, Jeff Wiley. Barber would often bring a maple bar or doughnut to work when he was still at Home Depot. His friends teased him about having the cop routine down even before he made the force.
He worked about three years at Home Depot before leaving to go to the police academy last year.
As his family and friends gathered Monday at the memorial a short distance from where the officer died, two cars collided in the same intersection, a minor accident that left everyone shaken.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company