TWINSBURG — Although he’s been gone for a decade, the memory of Police Officer Joshua Miktarian still burns bright for his former colleagues, family and friends.
As such, hundreds gathered at the Miktarian Memorial on Ravenna Road to honor the fallen officer the evening of July 13, marking 10 years since his death. Miktarian was shot and killed in the line of duty July 13, 2008, following a late night traffic stop on Glenwood Drive.
Officers and the public shared memories of the officer, known for his humor and musical interests, and offered their respects to surviving family members.
Miktarian served with the Twinsburg Police Department for 11 years, and also was a part-time officer for the Uniontown Police Department in Stark County.
He was the first and only Twinsburg officer killed in the line of duty. On July 1, 2015, the city dedicated the memorial in front of Twinsburg Government Center to Miktarian.
"I made a personal promise to his family to keep his memory alive," said Officer Dan Fidoe, who arrived on the scene that fateful night 10 years ago shortly after Miktarian was shot. Fidoe is the current president of the Twinsburg Police Association.
"Most police departments don’t come close to what we’ve done to keep Josh’s memory alive and to continue to support his family members," Fidoe said. "We go out of our way to do that, and we take pride in that. We’re still supporting the family 10 years later just like we did after the tragic incident."
Miktarian’s widow, Holly, said the support of local officers, out-of-town officers and the public has been appreciated through the years.
"The city police and fire departments have been so supportive, and that means so much to me," she said.
Memories of Josh continue to stay with her.
"He was a great guy who had the ability to make anyone laugh," she said. "It’s comforting to know that his friends have kept his memory alive and he has not been forgotten — even 10 years after his death."
Although the Miktarians’ daughter Thea, now 10, was only a few months old when Josh was killed, Holly said many police officers have shown support for her, too. She attends a camp each year for children who have lost a parent, and a lot of people have shared memories of Josh with her.
As part of the 10-years-gone ceremony July 13, the Twinsburg Police Association and Twinsburg Firefighters Union Local 3630 installed two permanent flag poles at the Miktarian Memorial. One flies the thin blue line flag (police) and the other the thin red line flag (firefighters).
The poles are set at 45-degree angles from the center of the memorial, which is symbolic for Miktarian’s badge No. 45.
"On the 10-year anniversary of Josh’s EOW, we want to proudly display the thin red line flag and thin blue line flag together to show that we have worked together to get through this over the last 10 years," says a post on the police association’s Facebook page.
"To frame the memorial with our flags will let Thea [Miktarian’s daughter] and Holly [his wife] know we are there for them, and Josh’s memory lives on."
The Facebook page has an item posted which states: "In memory of K-9 Officer Joshua T. Miktarian. Forever missed, never forgotten. Your brothers in blue."
In the early morning hours of July 13, 2008, Miktarian was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Glenwood Drive. He was found by responding officers and flown to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The convicted murderer — Ashford L. Thompson — was arrested a short time after the incident by Bedford Heights police officers, and was convicted of murder in May 2010. He was sentenced to death.
Now 33 years old, Thompson sits on death row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. An execution date has not been set.
At Council’s July 10 meeting, Councilman Brian Steele, a former police officer himself, made the following statement about the 10-year anniversary of Miktarian’s death:
"It’s hard for me to fathom that it’s been 10 years since Josh’s death in the line of duty," Steele said. "What really gets me is the guy who shot him is living longer than Josh did. That’s a real travesty."
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org