Enfield Mourns Fallen Officer; Suspects Make First Court Appearance
Posted March 15, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
HALIFAX — Two men charged in the murder of an Enfield Police officer made their first appearance in court Tuesday, while the small town continued to mourn and remember Sgt. Tonya Gillikin.
Gillikin was shot in the head Monday morning during a traffic stop on Highway 301. Her death was difficult for both the small town and fellow officers.
"It feels like a sister, an immediate family member has been taken away from us," says Enfield Police Chief Carl Gregory. "We can't adjust to it. We're just trying to deal with it the best way we can."
Deputy Susan Allen still feels a special connection to Gillikin, as a woman and as an officer of the law. She knows danger is part of the job, but in the wake of Monday's murder, it has never seemed more real than now.
"We are out here to protect and serve, and make sure everybody gets where they are going safely," Allen said. "And when you stop someone like that, we're doing our job. We don't think that we are going to get shot when we step out to see what's going on."
The suspects, Douglas Elijah Travis, 23, of Roanoke Rapids and 18-year-old Lawrence Brody of Pleasant Hill, were informed of the charges against them Tuesday in court. They were also given two state appointed attorneys.
If convicted, they may face the death penalty, a decision the Halifax County sheriff would welcome.
"It was bad. It was mean what happened," Sheriff Jeff Frazier said. "It's not normal, and that's why we are all here today, this is unusual."
In the small town where everybody knows your name, one name on everyone's lips is Gillikin's. She was well-known around town, and people say you didn't have to know her personally to know she was friendly.
Most people do not remember traffic stops fondly, but Ronald Hill does. He remembers being pulled over by Gillikin one night.
"She smelled a little beer or something and I told her I had drunk the beer, so she said, 'All right go home.' She was real nice," Hill says.
Gillikin was the arresting officer on a break-in at Gayle Locke's jewelry store. Locke remembers Gillikin being the consummate professional. She also calls her a friend.
"I always wondered, you know, I would talk to her, like, 'How could you do this being a woman?' You know, as a female to a female, and she just said it was something she had always wanted to do and she loved her job," Locke says.
Law enforcement officers wore black bands across their badges to mourn their colleague. Officer Gillikin's patrol car has been draped, and parked at the front of the Enfield Police Department. She has also been posthumously promoted to Lieutenant.
There will be a visitation for Gillikin Wednesday night from 5-7 p.m. at the Enfield Baptist Church.
Gillikin's funeral is scheduled for Friday morning at Glad Tidings Church in Morehead City. Services are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
A memorial fund has been set up in the officer's honor. Donations can be sent to:Tonya Gillikin FundCentura Bank101 North Railroad StreetEnfield, NC 27823