Fallen St. John deputy honored with dedication

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 26, 2010



LAPLACE – In an emotional ceremony Thursday morning, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office dedicated a new training facility and a special operations rapid response vehicle to a fallen deputy who was killed in the line of duty in 2006.

Law enforcement agents who come to St. John Parish for field training exercises will now be greeted by a sign bearing the name Octavio “Ox” Gonzales, a St. John narcotics agent who Sheriff Wayne Jones described as the architect of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Operations Response Team.

“I miss ‘Ox’ as much today as I did when he left us in 2006,” said a tearful Jones, who often struggled with his words Thursday. “He was a vital part of the administration and always had the department’s interest in mind. He is deeply missed by many of his colleagues.”

Jones said the training facility is often used by an assortment of law enforcement agents from across the area. He said deputies from Lafourche, Ascension and other surrounding areas come to the facility, near the parish jail, to receive field training.

Also dedicated Thursday was a SORT rapid response vehicle that will be used to deploy special agents as needed. Jones said he decided to name the vehicle, which was funded through a Homeland Security grant, “Big Ox” in honor of the fallen deputy.

“You all know how I like to name all my vehicles,” Jones said. “We just figured that was the perfect name for this new tool. Ox was pivotal in the creation of SORT.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office website, on June 16, 2006, Gonzalez was ambushed, shot and killed while participating in a manhunt for two suspects who had shot and wounded another deputy minutes earlier. A Houston man fired three shots at Gonzales from behind after he was lured from his patrol vehicle by a female accomplice pretending to need help.

After shooting Gonzalez, authorities say, the couple went on an extended crime spree that included robbing a Kenner family at gunpoint in their home, a car chase with police and eventually a hostage situation in River Ridge. The suspect, John Lee Cheek, was arrested and booked with first-degree murder of a peace officer, two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and armed robbery. He was recently found guilty on all charges.