Section: News

Officer’s death has been shock for Danville

More than $12,000 has been raised by more than 300 people on GoFundMe pages for the family of a Danville police officer, Thomas Cottrell Jr., who was killed last week.

Dani Dustin, a close friend of Cottrell and Tanya Rayburn, Cottrell’s partner, created one of these pages, so Rayburn and their children would not have to worry about money at this time. The page describes Cottrell as “not only a great cop, but a outstanding member of the community.” Dustin said Cottrell was active as a local little league coach and while on duty would often stop to throw passes with kids playing football.

Less than 30 minutes passed between a tip made to the Danville Police Department that someone was looking to kill a police officer and the discovery of Cottrell’s body behind the nearby Danville Municipal Building on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 11:47 p.m. The Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit website, reports that Cottrell is one of two police officers who have been killed by gunfire this year in the U.S.

At 11:20 p.m., the Knox County dispatch center received a call that a man named Herschel Ray Jones III, 32, was armed and intent on killing a police officer in Danville. The caller was identified as an ex-girlfriend of Jones’s, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

After the tip was called in, the dispatch center and KCSO deputies tried to contact Cottrell and began to search the Village of Danville, ultimately finding Cottrell dead. 

Knox County Coroner Jennifer Ogle wrote in an email to the Collegian that Cottrell died from a single gunshot wound to the head. A full autopsy will be released in roughly six to eight weeks.


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