Back from Dallas, Hillsboro officer heartbroken for Baton Rouge - KPTV - FOX 12

Back from Dallas, Hillsboro officer heartbroken for Baton Rouge

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It was 2 a.m. Sunday when Sergeant Eric Bunday got home from Dallas, tired from the emotional trip honoring five slain officers, and heartbroken all over again he awoke later to more bad news. 

"There are three families in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that are experiencing the unthinkable, and so our hearts and our prayers are with them,” Bunday said, back in his uniform just 12 hours after arriving back to Oregon.

As part of Hillsboro Police Department’s Honor Guard, Bunday is no stranger to attending funerals and vigils of fallen law enforcement. He threw a Hillsboro Police uniform patch down in Dallas with a sea of others. 

“It was overwhelming, it was awe-inspiring, it was gut-wrenching, it was humbling,” Bunday said of the trip. “It filled me with pride being a police officer. I came back heartbroken, but I also came back much richer for the experience.”

Being a police officer, Bunday said he knows of the risks that come with the job. But lately, the danger is on his mind more, and in the minds of those he loves.

“I’ve texted my mom every night since I’ve gotten off shift since Dallas occurred, just to let her know I’m okay — that I’m going home,” Bunday said. “Our families are the unsung heroes of law enforcement. They’re the ones who rely purely on faith and hope that we’re going to come home at the end of our shift.”

Mixed in with the deaths of the three officers in Baton Rouge, Bunday was also thinking of another person who died in the line of duty: a tragedy that hits much closer to home for the man who also spent some time working as an officer in St. Helens. 

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Ralph, and when something like this happens, I immediately flash back to January 5th, 2011 when he died,” Bunday said. 

He’s talking about Ralph Painter, a man that was supposed to celebrate his 61st birthday Sunday. But the Rainier Police chief was gunned down responding to a disturbance call at a car audio store five years ago. 

Bunday said he’s been in law enforcement for 15 years — he’s been to a lot of police funerals. Still, he said an outpouring of love helps take the sting out of recent tragedies. 

“I know that today when I go out there, I’m going to run into people that are going to thank me. I know that I’m going to run into people that are going to express appreciation, and I can’t tell you how much it means. It’s great,” Bunday said. "I just wish it didn’t take something like this for us to feel that support.”

And when asked if the tough work and tragedy ever made him rethink his badge, Bunday said, “No.”

“This is still what I was called to do. Hillsboro is my community. Oregon is my community, and it’s the deepest privilege and honor of my life to be able to do that.”

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