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Jun 3, 2013 1:28 AM by Sam Salzwedel

First responders honor 5-year anniversary of fallen officer

TUCSON - First responders honored the 5-year anniversary of the death of Tucson Police Officer Erik Hite.

Hite was shot June 1, 2008. He died the next day.

His wife, Nohemy Hite, has started The Erik Hite Foundation, which supports military and public safety workers. The Foundation hosted an event at Pantano Christian Church Sunday. Hite said her husband would love to be here helping if he were still alive.

"He would be just following me around and asking me what he needs to do," Nohemy Hite said.

It has been a tough weekend for the family.

"It's the hardest day of the year, that's for sure," Nohemy Hite said. "I can't help it to remember everything. And I look at the clock, and unfortunately, I have all those memories in my mind that I can't get rid of."

Tucson Police Sgt. Bob Carpenter was at the event. He almost replaced Hite as TPD's most recent officer killed on the job. He was shot in the head last November after responding to a burglary call.

"Injury to the head like I had takes a long time to recover from, apparently, so the surgeons say," Carpenter said. "It's a little deficit here, a little deficit there. It's really hard to explain. It's just little things that trip me up every once in a while but nothing too specific."

He hopes to return to light duty at work by July 1.

He worked for the department when Hite was killed. He said it was devastating.

"We all knew who he was even if we didn't know him personally," Carpenter said. "It just brought home the dangers this job has in a way that we would rather avoid."

The shootings of Officer Hite and Sgt. Carpenter remind the public safety workers what they really do for a living.

"If you think it's going to happen, you wouldn't be going to work," Carpenter said, "so the possibility is there, and we all accept it. But we don't dwell on it."

Hite said she would worry when her husband came home with bruises, broken ribs and other injuries.

"Yeah, I was scared," she said, "but it's a lifestyle, that you cannot live by that fear."

Carpenter said he knew what was happening when he was injured, but did not want to reveal too many details. He does not want to compromise the upcoming trial of Ricky Mendoza, 30, who is accused of shooting him.

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