ELKO — Hundreds of vehicles lined Idaho Street Saturday evening to honor a state trooper killed in the line of duty. Some wept while others played “Amazing Grace” on their phones. A few gathered in small groups, hats on hearts, but most stayed in their vehicles because of coronavirus restrictions. They displayed American flags, flashing their blinkers as lights and sirens blared through the night.
Sgt. Ben Jenkins of Elko was killed Friday morning when he stopped to help a motorist along U.S. Highway 93 and was fatally shot.
Jenkins, 47, began working for NHP in 2008. He was awarded the agency’s gold medal of valor in 2011.
Capt. James Simpson, commander over NHP’s Northern Command East, shared his thoughts with fellow Elko County residents.
“Yesterday, March 27, 2020, I received the phone call from NHP Dispatch that I had hoped I would never receive. I was told that one of my sergeants, Benjamin Jenkins, had been shot while assisting a broken down motorist. A few moments later I was made aware by one of my rookie troopers that Sergeant Jenkins had been killed.
“I promoted Ben three years ago to the rank of sergeant. His promotional interview was stellar, he was well prepared and ready to make the move up to a formal leadership position. Ben grew up in Elko and served the community in countless roles: firefighter, coach, mentor to many and as a Nevada State Trooper.
“We have talked a great deal during the past five years that we have worked together; most recently about his retirement plans, which were going to be three years out. We had discussed how he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren. Ben has a heart of gold, truly a caring person.
“My Sergeant was shot and killed by the same person he had stopped to help out.
“I want to thank all the assisting law enforcement agencies who assisted us yesterday and in the days and weeks to follow, I cannot thank you enough.
“I am truly thankful to all of people and businesses who have shown support for Sergeant Jenkins and all the other members of the Nevada Highway Patrol. As the commander over Northern Command East, I want you all to know we are all grateful.”
Assemblyman John Ellison also posted news of Jenkins’ death on his Facebook page.
“Our hearts are broken over the loss of such an amazing man, trooper, husband, father, nephew, uncle, and friend,” Ellison said. “You served Nevada well and we are grateful for you and your service. Rest easy Sergeant.”
“On March 27, 2020 our world was changed beyond what we could have ever imagined,” a family member wrote in a statement forwarded to the Elko Daily Free Press. “He served many roles in his lifetime: EMT, firefighter, police officer, but his most important roles for us were husband, father, papa, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. As we work our way through all of this, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of the outpouring of love and support you have shown our family as well as his brothers and sisters in blue.”
Hundreds of first responders escorted Jenkins’ body Friday night to Las Vegas as it was driven to the Clark County Coroner’s Office, and again on its way home to Elko on Saturday.
Jenkins formerly was a training officer for the Nevada State Fire Marshal Division, a crew supervisor for the Nevada Division of Forestry, assistant fire chief for the Spring Creek Volunteer Fire Department, and a National Guard veteran.
Jim Stewart, who recently retired as NHP trooper and information officer, said he knew Jenkins well.
“You become family with the people you work with,” he said. “We rely on each other.”
The Injured Police Officers Fund created an account at Wells Fargo Bank (#5906636682) and Nevada State Bank (#5795937738) where the family will receive 100% of the donations. Donations can also be made online at https://ipof.vegas/donate.
NHP Chief Col. Daniel Solow said this was the first death of an on-duty highway patrolman since 2008.
“This is a time of tremendous grief for our agency, his family and our communities,” he said. “A memorial service is pending and that information will be forthcoming at a later date.”
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