- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2011

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. paid tribute Monday to Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last week, praising his “enthusiasm for his work, his commitment to both his duties and his colleagues, and his dedication to the things he loved most in this world.”

Mr. Holder told more than 1,000 mourners who filled the Simpson Creek Baptist Church in Bridgeport, W.Va., that Deputy Hotsinpiller, 24, was “one of the best” and “a young man with big plans and limitless potential.

“As the son of a distinguished police officer and the brother of another, Derek possessed a clear understanding that some of life’s most important duties come with great risks,” Mr. Holder said. “He knew that the work of protecting our communities, and our country, can often carry us into harm’s way.

“And yet Derek sought out one of the most important jobs in law enforcement. As a deputy United States marshal, each day Derek faced considerable threats. And, each day — right up until the morning of his death — he chose to put the safety of others above his own,” he said. “This is what the Marshals Service does.”

Deputy Hotsinpiller was killed Wednesday while serving a warrant in Elkins, W.Va., along with two other deputy marshals and West Virginia state troopers. Law enforcement authorities said the warrant named Charles E. Smith, 50, on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Deputy Hotsinpiller was pronounced dead at a hospital after he was struck in the neck with a blast from a shotgun. Smith also was killed in the shootout.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Alex Neville, a supervisory agent, was wounded in the incident. He was treated at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and later released.

Hundreds of federal, state and local officers from across the region stood in the rain to attend Deputy Hotsinpiller’s funeral. Overflow crowds watched the service from a video feed from a church next door.

After the funeral service, two processions — one of police cars and other emergency vehicles and another including the hearse and Deputy Hotsinpiller’s family and friends — made their way through Bridgeport to the cemetery. Just before entering the cemetery, the processions passed under a large U.S. flag suspended from two fire department ladder trucks.

Deputy Hotsinpiller, who had served with the U.S. Marshals Service for slightly more than a year, was among two federal law enforcement officers killed last week in the line of duty. In Mexico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata, 32, died when he and his partner were ambushed by drug cartel members on a Mexican highway. His funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday in Brownsville, Texas. His partner, Victor Avila, was shot twice in the leg but survived.

“Although an unspeakable, and devastating, tragedy has unfortunately brought each of us here today, it is an extraordinary life that binds us together,” Mr. Holder said. “I am honored to be with you. And I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute, as well as my respects, to Deputy Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller.

“I am here on behalf of a grateful nation. … I am here on behalf of America’s law enforcement community. But, above all, I am here as one of Derek’s colleagues,” he said. “Derek was one of our own. He was one of our best. And he will be missed.”

Deputy Hotsinpiller was a 2005 graduate of Bridgeport High School and attended Fairmont State College in Fairmont, W.Va.

This article in based in part on wire service reports.

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