Scott Ewing does not like to use the term “law enforcement community.”
For Ewing, a deputy with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, the society of local police officers and sheriff’s deputies is more like a family.
That family turned out to help one of its own Monday as law enforcement officials and their families from all over the state donated 350 units of blood in honor of Molly Bowden, a Columbia police officer shot three times during a traffic stop Jan. 10.
“This is just remarkable,” Ewing said as donors lined up outside the Roger B. Wilson County Government Center before doctors and nurses were even ready to begin at 9 a.m. “It really shows how the law enforcement family is pulling together for one of their own.”
Jim Williams, a donation coordinator for the American Red Cross, said the drive was a much bigger success than he and other organizers had anticipated. Typically, Williams said, a blood drive will yield 75 units of blood. The Red Cross, he said, had anticipated a large turnout Monday but was still surprised at the number of people who showed up and the distance they drove to do it.
“There has been a tremendous response to this cause,” he said. “We had to open the doors early because people were lining up outside just to donate.”
Ewing, who helped organize the event with the Red Cross, said law enforcement officials from as far as Hannibal and Kansas City were calling for directions to the donation site.
To show their support, uniformed officers from the Columbia Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department stood in line with local fire fighters, paramedics and Columbia residents for more than two hours to donate. Most of them expressed concern for Bowden, 26, and her family.
Columbia resident John Scheiter said he did not mind the wait. The fact that he was doing something good kept him there. Scheiter was in line for almost an hour and half waiting to begin the initial screening process. He would then stand in line for another 45 minutes before donating.
“This was something that I felt like I needed to do,” he said. “It’s a good thing, and that is all there is to it.”
To Ewing, it was the first donor in line, David Thomas, Molly Bowden’s father, who exemplified the dedication of everyone involved.
“He wanted to be first,” Ewing said. “Then he left to go be with his daughter at the hospital. It was really something for him to be here.”
Police say Richard T. Evans shot Bowden and then shot Officer Curtis Brown the following morning as he was attempting to flee. Evans then turned the gun on himself. Evans later died. Brown, who was released from the hospital last week, also donated to the blood bank, as did Shelly Jones, a Columbia police officer who was shot and wounded in the line of duty in 1996.
Bowden, who was wounded three times in the shoulder and neck, remains in critical condition at University Hospital, said Police Chief Randy Boehm, who was also there to donate blood Monday. Boehm said doctors have been monitoring Bowden’s condition closely as she makes what he described as “the first few steps in a long recovery.”
Bowden lost so much blood the night she was shot, police said, that officers with the Missouri Highway Patrol had to transport extra blood from the Red Cross in St. Louis. Monday’s blood drive was organized to replenish some of the supplies that had been depleted by Bowden.
Still, Boehm said everyone in the Columbia Police Department is optimistic and hoping for Bowden’s recovery.
“While she is getting better, doctors have not been able to really assess the extent of damage that might have been done,” Boehm said. “But she is still fighting.”