Print

News >> Browse Articles >> Officer Down News

+14

Fallen Officer Forgave Teen Shooter Who Left Him Paralyzed

Fallen Officer Forgave Teen Shooter Who Left Him Paralyzed

But Hayes was never free of health problems or infections, and they seemed to get worse as he aged. A leg was amputated about six years ago. He had a heart attack last year, which laid him up for six months, and he bounced between the hospital and a rehab

Columbus Dispatch via YellowBrix

January 25, 2011

COLUMBUS – Two weeks before he was to take the job of Columbus police sketch artist, Officer Tom Hayes walked into a Clintonville convenience store to check on a reported disturbance.

It was 2:25 a.m. Dec. 18, 1979. Court testimony later revealed that at least one of the two teenagers in the store had been drinking and smoking marijuana and had taken LSD. Hayes, 30, tried to arrest them on curfew violations.

During a scuffle, one of the teenagers pulled out a gun and shot Hayes in the back, permanently paralyzing him from the waist down.

The next morning, Hayes told a priest that he had forgiven the shooter and was praying for him. Both teens were caught, charged and convicted.

But Hayes was never free of health problems or infections, and they seemed to get worse as he aged. A leg was amputated about six years ago. He had a heart attack last year, which laid him up for six months, and he bounced between the hospital and a rehab center.

About a week and a half ago, he asked to go back to his Marble Cliff home. He wanted to be with his wife and his two dogs at the end.

Hayes, 61, died yesterday.

Those close to Hayes talk about his passions – the parts of his personality that allowed him to move past the shooting. His deep faith in God, for starters.

But there was also his devotion to his wife, Mary, who took care of him and helped him through down moments; the years of weightlifting before and after the injury, which allowed him to get well faster than his physical therapists thought possible; his love of art, which would allow him to finally accept that sketch-artist job years later.

“He was made of tough stuff,” said the Rev. Kevin Lutz, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church and the priest who counseled him the morning after the shooting.

“For all the pain and suffering and agony he has been through, he never showed it,” Mary Hayes said. “He was my hero.”

Mr. Hayes grew up in Grandview Heights. He met Mary when she was a waitress at the Black Horse Inn on the Northwest Side and he was home on leave from the Army. He was muscular from weightlifting and flashed “the best smile in the whole world,” she said.

He had to return to his Army duty in Germany, but they wrote each other. He drew cartoons on his letters.

He joined the Columbus Police Division in late 1972 and married Mary in 1973.

Police Chief Walter Distelzweig was in his class at the academy. “He was a great guy,” the chief said yesterday. “He continued to contribute to the department after he was shot.”

The shooting, the trial and Hayes’ recovery made headlines for months. A Gahanna lawyer, Robert Cohen, set up a fund for Hayes and eventually found enough contributors to build a handicapped-accessible home. Cohen had not previously known Hayes. His story had touched Cohen, though, and they eventually became good friends.

“He was a devout Ohio State fan,” Cohen said yesterday. “You didn’t call him during a game. I don’t care who you were.”

Hayes joined the police force as a civilian sketch artist in 1986 and worked there until 1997. In his spare time, he designed holiday cards for charity sales and badges for The Shamrock Club’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. For years, he would watch Ohio State football games and draw some depiction of the outcome, Cohen said.

He liked to spend time at the small house he and his wife owned on Lake Erie, and he increasingly turned his artistic talents to gardening, his wife said. People used to stop and ask who did their flowers, she said.

Lutz had given him last rites a few times over the years. Hayes wasn’t afraid of death, the priest said. He had long ago accepted what happened to him.

“You couldn’t find hatred in his heart,” Lutz said.

Calling hours are still being arranged through John Quint Treboni Funeral Home on the Northwest Side just north of Grandview Heights. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10a.m. Monday at Holy Family Church in Franklinton.


+14
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Sheepdog1

    over 3 years ago

    480 Comments

    RIP brother

  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    over 3 years ago

    2944 Comments

    A moment of Grace. Thank God for his heart. My prayers to the family. RIP

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    milcop

    over 3 years ago

    762 Comments

    RIP my Brother You will be missed

  • Uniphone1_max50

    batman2944

    over 3 years ago

    738 Comments

    Wow! A Christina in EVERY sense of the designation! Rest in Peace Brother, and God Bless!

    "Stay in the Fight"

  • Mourning_badge_max50

    Straightshooter

    over 3 years ago

    1708 Comments

    Rest In Peace. My Prayers for your Family, friends and coworkers.

  • Garita2_max50

    Inxorte

    over 3 years ago

    734 Comments

    RIPB

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Bump t1401hm

  • M-16_max50

    eera2525

    over 3 years ago

    74 Comments

    RIP in officer. Your service will not be forgotten!

  • Animal007_max50

    bulldogdt20012001

    over 3 years ago

    206 Comments

    You are the kind of person that we all strive to be. RIP Officer Hayes

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    over 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Definitely a place in Heaven for this Guy

  • Hpqscan0002_max50

    jdynomit

    over 3 years ago

    212 Comments

    Rest in Peace

  • Marvin_max50

    lajustice

    over 3 years ago

    1178 Comments

    RIP

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    RIP

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    over 3 years ago

    14618 Comments

    Rest in Peace my Brother, you have more than earned it.

    This needs to be treated as a LODD. He was disabled in the LOD and eventually that is what lead to his death.

  • Me_max600_max50

    patrickT

    over 3 years ago

    322 Comments

    Rest in peace.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Untitledma28839986-0002_max30
Irishcop1961 commented on: "Brighteyes63", 4 minutes ago.
03-29-09_1112_max30
dalizzard commented on: "Why Oath Keepers Is Dangerous", 44 minutes ago.
Cruise_2014_max30
BigNTS is ranked No.4 of all-time in PoliceTrivia, about 1 hour ago.
Cruise_2014_max30
BigNTS is ranked No.4 of all-time in PoliceTrivia, about 1 hour ago.