COLD SPRING, Minn. — Editor's note: The attached video first aired in July 2018
Across the street from where she attends Catholic mass, Rosella Decker makes a familiar walk to the St. Nicholas Cemetery.
It is there she finds the graves of her husband, daughter, and son.
"Part of my family is here," she says while looking at the gravestones.
Decker's 8-year-old daughter, Susan, died in March 1984 of a rare heart condition.
Twenty-eight years later, she would lose her 31-year-old son Tom too.
It was Nov. 29, 2012. Tom, a Cold Spring police officer, was shot and killed while responding to a welfare check. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's person of interest in the case took his own life while under investigation. In 2018, the criminal case was closed. No one was ever charged.
Nearly ten years later, the unanswered questions in the case still weigh on Rosella.
So does the grief.
"[Susan] died in my arms. I was so glad I had her right up until the very end in my arms. My husband, too, died in my arms. And all I could think of was Tommy - I couldn't do that with him," she said.
Decker left behind a wife and four children.
As the ten-year anniversary approaches, there is a push in the community to build a memorial to honor him and all other law enforcement.
Paul Waletzko is organizing the effort. The former law enforcement officer, who has now left the field, is hoping to raise $60,000 to erect a 6-foot-tall police officer statue in front of Cold Spring City Hall. So far, nearly $43,000 has been raised, including a $30,000 slab of granite provided by Coldspring, on which the statue will sit. The memorial will replace the current plaque honoring Decker.
"[The memorial will] help memorialize all law enforcement officers, not only Tom Decker, but those who currently serve and play that role in keeping us safe in our communities," Waletzko said.
Waletzko's goal is to have the statue up by Nov. 29, the 10th anniversary of Decker's murder. However, he stresses that even if the fundraising goal isn't reached by then, they will continue the effort until enough is raised to place the new memorial.
Rosella appreciates the gesture to honor her son, and all those in law enforcement.
"I don't want Tommy forgotten," she said. "I don't want any of these police officers forgotten."
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