Vigil to be held to mark officer’s death anniversary

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An annual candlelight vigil will be held Tuesday night to mark the 12-year anniversary of Gainesville police officer Scott Baird’s death.

Baird received a call on Feb. 12, 2001, about a large metal cage blocking Northwest 16th Terrace and went to the scene to investigate. There, Ira Warren, 17, struck the cage with his car. The cage hit Baird and sent him flying into Baird’s control car, killing the young officer.

“We come together as a community, officers, friends and family members of Scott to show that we haven’t forgotten about Officer Baird,” GPD spokesman Ben Tobias said.

Though Warren was charged with speeding and received a driver’s license restriction, investigators never found out who put the metal cage in the road. Tobias said hundreds of people were interviewed at the time of the incident, but no one came forward. He hopes the vigil will raise awareness of the incident.

“We still would like to find who was responsible, mainly to give the family some closure,” Tobias said. “Right now they still have it hanging over their heads.”

Between 50 and 100 people are expected to attend the vigil, which will be held at 7 p.m. on the 1900 block of Officer Scott M. Baird Boulevard (Northwest 16th Boulevard behind Gainesville High School).

While responding to a call about moving an object out of the road may not seem overtly dangerous, Tobias says it’s important that people are aware that any call poses a certain amount of risk.

“We knew when we accepted this job that there is an inherent risk, but we do it every day because its what we believe we were meant to do,” Tobias said. “We train for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Leila Milgrim wrote this story online.

About Maggie Schwartzman

Maggie is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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