Motorcycle riders stop in Springfield to honor fallen police officer

Sara Karnes
Springfield News-Leader

A group of motorcycle riders who aim to honor fallen officers came through Springfield Sunday to remember a Springfield officer who died in the line of duty last year.

The "Beyond the Call of Duty – End of Watch Ride to Remember" rode into the South District Station in honor of officer Christopher Walsh.

Walsh, a 32-year-old Springfield Police Department officer, was among four people killed by a lone gunman March 15, 2020, at the Kum & Go store on East Chestnut Expressway.

End of Watch Ride to Remember is a group of motorcycle riders from the state of Washington escorting a 41-foot trailer across the country to honor fallen officers from the prior year. This year’s ride takes place between May 28 and August 19. During that timeframe, six riders travel 22,300-plus miles across the country, visiting cities and police departments to honor the men and women of law enforcement who "paid the ultimate price in their service to our communities" in 2020. 

Bikers with End of Watch arrive at the Springfield Police Department's South District Station Aug. 8, 2021.

Among the riders was volunteer Jason Vallieres. He said the light rain the group saw coming into town Sunday was nothing compared to the 23 days of showers they experienced earlier this summer while driving through Hurricane Elsa.

Spokesman and founder, Jagrut Shah, a former deputy sheriff, said in a news release that they want to show departments and their families they are not alone.

"I wanted to bridge this gap that we have and let the officers and their families know that their loss has not been forgotten," he said.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams told reporters that seeing Walsh's image on the trailer filled him with remorse. 

End of Watch Ride Chairman and Founder Jagrut "JC" Shah holds hands with Chris Walsh's mother, Kathy, after arriving in Springfield Aug. 8, 2021.

"I don't want to see anybody's name or picture up there," Williams said, indicating the dozens of images on the sides of a 41-foot trailer. "We hadn't had that type of tragedy in a very, very long time, and I'll be very honest with you, I hope that's the last time."

Seeing people honoring Walsh's memory extend past the community and out of state was heartwarming, Williams said.

An image of Officer Chris Walsh is among several on a 41-foot trailer that is traveling across the country.

Last year, the End of Watch Ride honored 146 fallen officers across the country. This year, they will honor the 338 officers who lost their lives in 2020 while serving their communities.