Chaplain provides comfort, care to families of fallen first responders

ST. LOUIS - The families of two fallen law enforcement officers have someone to turn to for support.

The St. Louis Police Wives Association’s chaplain met with the family of Ralph Harper, the retired St. Louis Police sergeant who was shot and killed during a botched robbery Monday morning.

“It’s heartbreaking in any case.  But this one hit home because you feel like he was safely retired,” Chaplain Maria Byers said.

Byers was among the first to arrive at Barnes Hospital shortly after Harper had been transported.

“You’re just there to lend support and to see what they need right then and there,” she said.  “You ask if there’s a person of faith that you can contact.  If there are family members you can contact.  If it’s a parent who has children.  Where are the little ones?  Can we pick them up?  Do you need someone to sit with them?”

Byers said she was impressed by the strength of Harper’s wife.

“She’s a very strong, brave woman.  And I think you have to be to be a law enforcement spouse.  He strength definitely shone through,” she said.

The STLPWA will also provide assistance to the family of Washington Park Officer Ricardo Davis, who was killed in the line of duty while pursuing suspects Saturday.

The organization plans to assist with preparations during the funeral.

“We want to see them through this entire process,” Byers said.