Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Fallen Officers: Hundreds of Motorcycles Rides to Raise Money for The Families of Officers Who Died on Duty (Journal Now Sept. 17, 2007)

For Fallen Officers: Hundreds of motorcyclists ride to raise money for the families of officers who died on duty
By Melissa Hall
Monday, September 17, 2007
John O'Toole of Pilot Mountain fastens Nocona, his 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, in her seat on the back of his Honda Shadow before the start of the ride.
John O'Toole of Pilot Mountain fastens Nocona, his 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, in her seat on the back of his Honda Shadow before the start of the ride. 
(Journal Photo by Lauren Carroll)

Pati and John O'Toole rode their motorcycle to Hanging Rock State Park yesterday, accompanied by Nocona, their Jack Russell terrier.

But it wasn't just a pleasure ride.

The O'Tooles were helping to raise money for two families of two police officers killed in the line of duty, Sgt. Greg Martin of the Jonesville Police Department and Sgt. Howard Plouff of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

John O'Toole is a retired U.S. Secret Service agent who was assigned to the Winston-Salem office from 1981 to 1991. After he retired, he moved back to this area and now lives in Stokes County.

"I have a history with this department," he said, referring to the Winston-Salem Police Department. "We caught a lot of people together."

Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club sponsored the Ride the Line trip. The motorcycle club is based in Maine and has more than 500 chapters.

Yesterday's ride was the first time Ride the Line has been held here. The riders left downtown Winston-Salem about 1 p.m. for the drive to Hanging Rock and returned about two hours later.

Mike Kimbrell, a retired officer from Southern Pines, was one of almost 200 motorcyclists who took part.

"It was a good ride," Kimbrell said. "The Winston-Salem chapter came down and had a ride with our chapter a couple of weeks ago."

Officer Gene Piscatelli of the Winston-Salem Police Department, one of the organizers of the ride, said that the money raised from the ride will benefit the officers' families. One of Martin's children is a teenager now and wants to go to college, he said.

After the ride, the motorcyclists were treated to food and entertainment at My Cousin Vinny's, a restaurant on North Marshall Street. There was a silent auction, door prizes and two raffles. Piscatelli said that they raised a total of about $6,500.

Martin was killed early on the morning of Oct. 5, 1996, after stopping a stolen pickup truck on Interstate 77. He left a wife and two children.

Jonesville police are investigating whether Adam Leroy Lane, a truck driver from Jonesville, might have been involved in Martin's killing. Lane has been charged in Massachusetts with armed assault, attempted rape and murder.

In New Jersey, he has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary and third-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

Lane has not been charged in connection with Martin's death.

Plouff died Feb. 23 after being shot in the face at the Red Rooster, a nightclub on Jonestown Road. Plouff and other Winston-Salem officers responded to help Forsyth County deputy sheriffs who were working security at a private party when several fights broke out. The fights continued in the parking lot, where Plouff was shot. Plouff also left behind a wife and two children.

Keith Antoine Carter, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in Plouff's death.

Sgt. Will Fine of the Winston-Salem Police Department is the president of the local chapter of Blue Knights International. The group plans to make Ride the Line an annual activity, he said.

In addition to the law-enforcement officers who ride, organizers encourage other riders to join them.

"We want them to meet the officers who are out there protecting them," Piscatelli said.

■ Melissa Hall can be reached at 996-6601 or

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