Adams County deputies were joined by law enforcement officers from across the state and thousands of well-wishers Feb. 2 to say goodbye to Deputy Heath Gumm, a man described as a witty prankster with a promising career in law enforcement.
"One of the things that we are responsible for as police officers is to be able to combine the care and compassion of the guardian mindset with the warrior mindset," Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said to a huge crowd gathered for Gumm's memorial service in Lafayette's Flatirons Community Church. "I can't think of somebody that taught us to do that better than Heath."
McIntosh was one of six current and former Adams County Sheriffs Office staff members to eulogize Gumm, 31, who was shot and killed by a suspect Jan. 24 in a backyard near 87th and Edison Street in unincorporated Adams County.
They recalled his playful nature, his guidance for new deputies, his seriousness for the job and his love for his wife, Natasha.
Law enforcement, fire and emergency response personnel from around Colorado attended the service in the 4,600 seat church. The entire first floor the venue was nearly filled and the balcony nearly half-filled.
Gumm's father, former West Metro Fire Fighter Jim Gumm, said he was proud to have such an honest, forthright son.
"We always tried to instill in you the values of honesty, integrity, strength and compassion," the elder Gumm said. "But somewhere along the way, the student became the teacher. You soared high above us in all those aspects in life and you've always made us so proud."
He also read letters from Gumm's wife and the fallen deputy's mother, Becky. Gumm earned a black belt in tae kwon do growing up, loved cherry sour ball candy, popcorn, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and other cartoon heroes, as well as real-life ones.
"Heath knew he could usually get himself out of trouble by being cute and funny," his father said. "He loved animals, loved hiding things in his grandmother's hair without her knowing, teasing his sister at every turn and practicing 'takedowns' on his mom."
Gumm joined the Adams County Sheriffs Office in 2012, transferring in from the Cripple Creek Police Department. He started in the Adams County Detention Facility but transfered into the patrol division in 2013. Friend and fellow patrol deputy Lonn Trail said he wasn't finished.
"He was looking forward later this year to promoting to senior deputy and when he made senior deputy, he had a plan," Trail said. "He wanted to test for detective, and he told me he wanted to be part of the bomb squad because a lot of his friends, standing behind me today, had already transfered in."
Trail said he'd known Gumm for five years and counted him as one of his best friends. Trail, a member of the Adams County K9 unit, said he once confided in Gumm, telling him the command he used to make his dog Lex bark - loudly.
From then on, Gumm never missed an opportunity command the dog to bark right in Trail's ear, usually while they were in parked in their patrol cars waiting for a call for service.
"He never failed. When we were done with our conversation and I had my window down, Heath would get Lex's attention, work in the bark command and make him go crazy," Trail said. "Then, he'd laugh and roll up his window so he didn't have to hear it."
Another friend, Deputy Cole Cockrum, said he looked to Gumm for guidance.
"He had an amazing sense of humor, was easygoing and always willing to help," Cockrum said.
He recalled that once, soon after Cockrum had joined the Adams County office, he and Gumm found themselves chasing someone in the dark. Cockrum lost sight of both Gumm and the man he was chasing but did find Gumm's flashlight and it was pointing directly to where Gumm had gone.
Cockrum said he was amazed and impressed that Gumm had left the flashight as a clue to where he had gone.
"I said to myself, this cop is so squared away he is leaving me breadcrumbs," Cockrum said.
He didn't tell Gumm how impressed he was until days later.
"He told me wasn't leaving breadcrumbs," Cockrum said. "He said he was running so hard he tripped over himself, fell the the ground and his entire duty belt exploded. He said that what I didn't see was the radio and pistol magazines that were about 5 feet away from where the flashlight was."
Deputy Casey Overton, Gumm's sergeant, said he looked at Gumm as a leader among patrol deputies.
"I was able to put anyone with him in any district because he was able to work with anyone," Overton said. "Gumm would take people under his wing to show them the way things should be done."
McIntosh said he spent plenty of time working with his office's detective in the days after Gumm's shooting and he was told that Gumm had set his sights on being a detective.
"We just knew what kind of detective Heath would have been," McIntosh said.
So McIntosh said he would give Gumm a posthumous promotion to detective.
"When I have the honor of giving you Heath's badge, I will also give you an honorary detective badge," McIntosh said to Gumm's family. "He will forever be on our hearts and on our minds. He will forever be with his shift and now, also, he will be forever with you detectives that worked so hard to make sure this case goes where it needs to go."
Click below for video from the ceremony, courtesy of Channel 7.