David Livengood Memorial

The first and only line of duty death of a Garrett County Officer occurred at approximately 5 am on January 18, 1979. Deputy Sheriff David G. Livengood responded to a silent alarm at an army/navy discount store in Oakland, Maryland. Deputy Livengood was shot and killed by two perpetrators who fled and were later apprehended.

David Livengood

April 6, 1947 - January 18, 1979

David Livengood and his K-9 partner Sarge

A Police Officer's Prayer

When I start my tour of duty God,
wherever crime may be,
as I walk the darkened streets alone,
let me be close to thee.
Please give me understanding with both young and old.
Let me listen with attention until their story's told.
Let me never make a judgment in a rash or callous way,
but let me hold my patience to let each man have his say.
And if some dark and dreary night,
I must give my life,
Lord, with your everlasting love
protect my children and my wife.

January 20,2005, Republican Newspaper, by David Foster

"PARTNERS IN LIFE, and in death, Garrett County sheriff's deputy David Livengood and his K-9 partner Sarge were both cut down on an Oakland Street in a cold-blooded murder that took place 26 years ago this month. The Republican's editorial of that week gave an insight into the character and sacrifices of law enforcement officers: "Of those many persons who are quick to criticize law officers, who will be the first to step forward to take the job? There is an opening now on the Garrett County force. The hours are terrible, you'll work most holidays and in all kinds of weather, the salary is pathetic, and you must face the possibility of being killed in the blink of an eye time after time. How's that for a job description?" Young people can take on that challenge through the David G. Livengood Memorial Scholarship, which has been established by Garrett Lodge 99 of the Fraternal Order of Police to provide financial assistance to students interested in the criminal justice field. Applications for the scholarship are available at the Garrett County Sheriff's Office."

"Another one of those things that 'will never happen in Garrett County' has indeed finally happened. For the first time in history, at least in recent history, a law enforcement officer has been murdered in the line of duty in Garrett County. The tragic death has sent a shock wave over the entire county...."

Twenty-six years ago this week, with copious front page coverage, The Republican informed its readers of the cold-blooded murder of Sheriff's Deputy David G. Livengood in Oakland. Two days after the first Garrett County sheriff's deputy to be killed in the line of duty was laid to rest in Garrett County Memorial Gardens, in an editorial titled "It Finally Happened…", editor Don Sincell wrote with the still-palpable shock felt by the entire community:

"Because this type of incident has never happened before, we Garrett Countian's are probably more guilty than most when it comes to taking the job of a law enforcement officer for granted. We don't often stop and think about how many times these people literally place their lives on the line, yes, even here in Garrett County."

The earliest hours of Jan. 18, 1979, opened with exceptionally cold, biting winds and spitting snow. Ice-slicked roadways made driving dangerous. The vast majority of the county's residents asleep in their warm homes, relying on three men for protection – 31-year-old sheriff's deputy Dave Livengood, Oakland police officer Roger Lewis, and Maryland State Police trooper Larry Rosage. Three men in three cars were responsible for the well-being of 23,000 residents and all 657 square miles of the county.

Earlier that night, Livengood peeked in on his sleeping young children, Shannon and David, and gave his wife Geni a goodbye kiss. The Marine Corps veteran and Little League baseball coach then made his way along icy roads from his Crellin into Oakland to report for his midnight shift. The gusty winds gave Livengood pause, and, feeling a chill in his body that might mean the onset of a bad cold or even the flu, the officer decided not to overtax himself during his nine-hour tour of duty.

Riding in the backseat of the Ford Torino police cruiser was Livengood's K-9 partner Sarge, an exceptionally large snow-white German shepherd he had raised from a puppy. One of the family, Sarge would cuddle with Livengood children, but on the job he was all business.

About the same time, prior to going off his evening shift duty that night, Deputy Chuck Nolan checked the exterior of Davidson's Army-Navy Discount Store, a hunting and sporting goods store fronting Third Street at the present location of the county's Department of Social Services. The store had been burglarized three nights earlier, and no suspects had yet been identified. The padlocked chains on Davidson's front door were tightly secured.

Among the items stolen in that Jan. 15 burglary was a 9mm handgun.

"Despite being taken for granted, despite the criticism and poor image some people have of police officers, Dave Livengood went out of his way to be a good officer. He trained hard, took his job seriously, he demonstrated tremendous courage, and he knew how important it is to uphold the laws of the land. Besides losing a topnotch officer, we have lost a husband, a father and a friend to many."

Around 3 a.m. at the sheriff's office, Livengood told Lewis, his neighbor and good friend, that he still didn't feel well, and Lewis agreed that his buddy should try to stay out of the weather if possible.
As the minutes of the quiet "graveyard" shift slowly ticked away, Trooper Rosage left for Cumberland on the interagency mail run, and Lewis parked his vehicle across from Oakland City Hall to watch for traffic violations along Third Street.

At 5:25 a.m., movement inside Davidson's store tripped an alarm that sounded in the courthouse just over a mile away. Livengood was in the sheriff's office at the time, and the deputy hurried out to his cruiser, and sped along Fourth Street to approach the building from its rear. Lewis arrived at the front of the building along Third Street at about 5:27 a.m. to find the padlock and chains broken off the front door.

With the scene unsecured it was possible that the perpetrator(s) were still in the vicinity. Over the howling wind Lewis could barely make out Livengood's radio transmission asking if he had seen any suspicious vehicles traveling in area. About a minute later, Livengood's voice came over the speaker: "Stay in your car, I am going to check out a suspect vehicle." Those instructions indicated that the deputy was preparing to take Sarge out of the cruiser, and served as a warning to Lewis to stay out of the dog's way.

It was 5:30 a.m., and those were the last words of Deputy Livengood heard by his friends Lewis, dispatcher Dale Harvey, and off-duty deputy Chuck Nolan listening to his scanner while lying in bed at home.

At the same time, a Mitchell Manor resident came out of his house to get into his truck and leave for work. As the citizen was opening the door to his truck, he heard yelling coming from Fourth Street, behind Davidson's. He looked down his driveway and down the hill toward the back of Davidson's store, and saw one car sitting on Fourth Street, and a dog, illuminated by the car's head lights, pacing back and forth in front of it. The dog left the lights of the car, the citizen heard what sounded like gunshots, then after a pause heard more shots and the sound of car tires spinning on the icy surface, and noted a second vehicle as it slid into a tree or telephone pole.

Although the citizen could not have known it, the first car was Livengood's police cruiser, and the second car was driven by two burglars who had just killed the Deputy.

The citizen ran back into his house, called the main emergency number, and told that dispatcher what he had heard. While he was on the phone, the first vehicle pulled away from the scene. The information was relayed to Harvey, who radioed for Livengood – with no response. He called Lewis – still at the front of the store as Livengood had instructed – who could not hear the shots because of the gusting winds and the terrain of the low valley his partner had been standing in. Lewis drove his car alongside the building toward the back, where a steep embankment dropped off to Fourth Street below. His lights could not reach down to see the full extent of the street in the darkness.

About that time, the citizen who had called in the sound of gunfire left home for work, and as he was driving south on Fourth Street he saw a body lying in the road, and recognized the uniform as that of a sheriff's deputy. He immediately drove to the sheriff's office to report what he had seen.

Moments later Lewis made his way around a long block via an ice-slicked side road, and found his partner's body. Livengood had seven 9mm gunshot wounds, including one in the back of his head. Sarge, the faithful K-9 partner, was a short distance away lying against a barbwire fence. The dog was bleeding heavily from wounds made by a Samuri sword, and as Lewis walked over to him, Sarge raised his head, looked at Lewis as if to say "I did all I could do," and died.

What had begun as a burglar alarm was now a homicide. Never in the history of Garrett County had a Sheriff's Deputy been killed in the line of duty.

In cold summary, what the murder investigation eventually revealed was that Deputy Livengood had confronted two suspects who were in the process of carrying stolen property from the rear of the store. In the course of the performance of his duty while attempting to take them into custody, the Deputy was shot and killed.

Although he made a valiant effort to protect his master, Sarge was killed by the suspects when one of them rammed a Samurai sword they had in their vehicle down his throat.

The two suspects fled the area in the Deputy's police cruiser. A short time later, the suspects accosted a family in their residence near Deer Park. The family was tied up and the suspects stole their car. Later that day, both suspects were taken into custody by the West Virginia State Police near Morgantown.

One of the suspects, Roberto Rezek, was a member of the Pagan Motorcycle Club. The other suspect, Richard Tichnell, was a candidate for membership in that club. Rezek was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Tichnell was convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison. Having been eligible for parole several times, both remain incarcerated in a Division of Corrections facility.

"Another sad and frustrating chapter to this nightmare is the strong possibility that the individuals responsible for this death may one day have their freedom. This says something about our parole system." A parole hearing for Rezek is scheduled for this April.

David Livengood was survived by his wife, son, and a daughter. They moved away from the area after the murder. Among his family still living in Garrett County are his mother Josephine and his brother Ed, who is a Correctional Officer at the Garrett County Detention Center.

Numerous tributes exist to commemorate the life and sacrifice of David Livengood, including a college scholarship fund for local students. Among the other remembrances is the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., where his name is carved in a stone wall along with the nearly 17,000 of his fellow American police officers who have died in the line of duty since 1792.

"We thank God for the life of David Livengood and we wish that day will come when all people can recognize and appreciate the value of all human life."

A Postscript

In speaking to the principals who were involved in these tragic events that took place a quarter-century ago, this reporter was struck by how each of those men, who have spent the better part of their lives protecting the rest us from danger as policemen, dispatchers, and prosecutors, grew very, very sad when recalling the murder of David Livengood. Their still-living bonds with him are not only a tribute to the man, but also what his life and profession represents – an unselfish willingness to serve others, and if need be their own willingness to pay the ultimate price in doing so.

If you see a police officer today, thank him – or her – for what he or she does every day.

Police Memorial

Sheriff Paul Sanders presenting memorial to Livengood's mother in 1998

On May 15, 1998 Sheriff Paul R. Sanders, Jr. presented the  above memorial display  to the family of Deputy Livengood. The display consists of the above picture, the badge, gun, K9 & Departmental emblems and metals worn by Deputy Livengood. The memorial cabinet was designed and constructed by Warden Danny Rumer with the items arranged by Captain Don Tucker. The cabinet remains on display at the Garrett County Sheriff's Office. Pictured are Captain Don Tucker, Sheriff Sanders, Ed Livengood (Correctional Officer and brother) and Mrs. Josephine Livengood, mother.