Local News

Man Trains to Be Police Officer in Honor of Slain Uncle

Posted July 20, 2007

— Ten years ago this week, a murder devastated a small town. A man shot and killed the Sharpsburg police chief.

Now, one of the chief’s relatives wants to honor his uncle’s love for police work by wearing a shield on his own chest.

As the final days of training in the Rocky Mount Police Academy came to a close, Jonathan Denotter had his mentor in mind, his uncle.

“It’s pretty important to make sure I follow in his footsteps,” he said.

His uncle, Sharpsburg Police Chief Wayne Hathaway, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1997 while responding to a domestic call. The suspect also shot his own wife.

Denotter was 15 at the time. His family just marked the 10th anniversary of Hathaway's death this week.

“It’s an everyday thing. Somehow, some way, we always remember Wayne. For me, by simply sometimes looking at the clock, you'll see 6:01 on the clock. That was his unit number,” Denotter said.

His love and respect for Hathaway is a big part of what inspired Denotter to become a police officer.

“Knowing that I could have a positive impact just like he did, that makes a person feel good,” he said.

But Denotter’s family is concerned about him following in his uncle’s footsteps.

“Oh yeah, my mother – she’s concerned every day about how I’m doing things, making sure I’m safe out there, even in training,” he said.

Denotter has experience with dangerous jobs. He is a National Guardsman who spent nearly a year in Iraq. He believes his late uncle would be proud and said he learned about good police work from Hathaway.

“He really opened his heart up to people in the community by, you know, listening to them by going out there and seeing what they needed,” Denotter said.

That’s what this police officer-in-training hopes to bring to the streets on his beat. Denotter is scheduled to graduate from the Rocky Mount police training academy on July 25.

The man who shot his uncle, Abner Nicholson, remains on death row.


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  • jondenotter Jul 22, 2007

    I'm so proud of you Jon. I'll always be there to support you in your career, both in law enforcement and in the military. You have so many people cheering you on and believing in you. Keep up your dedication,determination and hard work. What you're doing is honorable. Thank you for everything you've done for the safety of our county and our country. Always keep your head held high. You always know who to turn to if you ever need anything.

  • jondenotter Jul 22, 2007

    This is Jonathan Denotter, I would like to thank everyone that has responded to my interview in a positive manner. Thank you for your kind words and words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. Once again, Thank you.

  • gopanthers Jul 22, 2007

    I know his Uncle and the rest of his family "is" very PROUD of this young man. Good luck and stay safe.

  • MohawkinNC Jul 22, 2007


  • sassyfrass Jul 22, 2007

    Good luck to you! I know how your Mom feels,my youngest son is a firefighter, and my oldest is a soldier, Your uncle would be so proud!

  • Bat Man Jul 22, 2007

    Very good story. I remember when Wayne Hathaway was killed it doesn't seem that long ago. I wish Jonathan the best. Stay safe and welcome to the brotherhood.

  • mrtwinturbo Jul 22, 2007

    I followed my grandfathers foot steps to honor him when I joined the military, how come they did not do a story about me?

  • I_love_ the_ News Jul 21, 2007

    Bravo !

  • rah-rah-rita Jul 21, 2007

    What a wonderful tribute! Be safe.

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Jul 21, 2007

    Good luck!!! I am sure your uncle would be very proud of you!!!!