Five years after LODD, fallen officer's family thanks community for support
"We can best honor Sean’s sacrifice and legacy by our care for one another and for the greater good in the world," the Gannon family said
By Lance Reynolds
YARMOUTH, Mass. — A strong outpouring of community support following the death of Yarmouth police officer Sean Gannon has helped his family find comfort from the evil act that took his life.
Gannon’s family wrote an open letter to the community on Wednesday, the 5-year anniversary of when he was killed in the line of duty, urging people to fulfill acts of kindness in his honor.
“The qualities of compassion, generosity, self-sacrifice, a strong work ethic and basic decency that define Sean to his core continue to emerge that preserve not only his memory but bring a light of hope into a dark world,” the letter reads. “Sean shone his light in his all too brief life. Now we can best remember him by doing the same.”
Gannon, a K-9 officer, died at age 32 on April 12, 2018, shortly after being shot by a man who was hiding in the attic of a Marstons Mills home. Gannon’s dog, Nero, was wounded but survived his injuries, eventually serving as the inspiration behind the creation of a law in his name. It allows EMS personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport for K-9 officers
A Barnstable Superior Court jury in August 2021 convicted the killer, Thomas Latanowich, of second-degree murder, and Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced him to life in prison, with the chance of parole after 25 years.
The sentence won’t begin until Latanowich, who had a previous criminal background, completes 10 to 15 years for other, related charges, including the wounding of Nero, who is now retired and lives with Gannon’s widow, Dara.
State Rep. Steven Xiarhos, R-5th Barnstable, served as Yarmouth’s deputy police chief at the time of Gannon’s death. It compelled him to retire after 40 years in law enforcement and run for office.
“Sean and Nero should be working today, right now,” Xiarhos told the Herald in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, on his way to pay his respects at Gannon’s grave. “We had a failure of the criminal justice system by letting this criminal out that shouldn’t have been out. Sean gave his life so someone else wouldn’t be killed.”
In its letter, the Gannon family thanked “the thousands of people who continue to keep his memory and legacy alive through the countless memorials, letters, honors and ultimately, the gift of friendship to our family.”
The Sean M. Gannon Memorial Fund has awarded more than $30,000 in grants to programs that meet its mission of promoting education, health and leadership by encouraging service through action, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands, Cultural Center of Cape Cod, and YMCA Cape Cod.
Behind the Yarmouth Police Department stands a facility, named in honor of Gannon, where police officers train their K-9 colleagues.
“Moreover, the good that continues to emerge from such a grievous loss not only to our family but to the community that Sean served with distinction reveals the innate goodness of people that goes beyond the pale,” the Gannons stated in their letter.
Xiarhos spearheaded the passage of Nero’s Law which Gov. Charlie Baker signed last year, allowing EMS personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport for K-9 officers, including basic first aid, CPR and administering lifesaving interventions like naloxone.
On Wednesday, Xiarhos held what he called a first-in-the-state blood drive for dogs at the Bourne Police Department on Wednesday. Thirty dogs gave blood to help save another dog’s life someday. The event will continue to be held on April 12 in years to come, he said.
“It’s like the journey of good continues, taking a tragedy that broke all of our hearts,” Xiarhos said. “We are making a difference.”