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Slain Tennessee deputy remembered as family man, friend

June 5, 2018
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This photo provided by the Dickson County Sheriff's Office shows Sgt. Daniel Baker. A manhunt continued Thursday, May 31, 2018 in the slaying of a Baker, a Tennessee sheriff's deputy who was fatally shot during a traffic stop. (Dickson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee sheriff’s sergeant fatally shot while responding to a call was remembered Tuesday in a ceremony that offered some closure after a 48-hour manhunt for the suspect charged with pulling the trigger. 

Relatives and fellow officers remembered Dickson County Sgt. Daniel Baker as an admired officer and devoted friend, father and husband during a service held in the First Baptist Church in Dickson.

Authorities say the 32-year-old Baker was found dead in his patrol car Wednesday after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle. He’s survived by his wife and daughter.

In a letter read at the funeral, Baker’s mother, Veronica Bryan, called him a soul who brought joy and fulfillment to many, and whose legacy will live on forever.

“You tell God thank you for me, and tell him how grateful, lucky and privileged I was and continue to be to be your mom, and in the end, I hope I made you both proud,” Bryan wrote in the letter.

A district attorney said the state will seek the death penalty against two suspects scheduled to appear in court Friday on first-degree murder charges. Police have said Steven Joshua Wiggins shot and killed Baker and Erika Castro-Miles was in the car when he did it.

After responding to the call Wednesday, Baker couldn’t be contacted for some time, but the deputy’s car was eventually tracked by GPS to a wooded area 2 or 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers) away and he was found dead inside it.

Citing the ongoing investigation, authorities have revealed little to answer lingering questions, including how the shooting unfolded, how the patrol car ended up where it was found, and whether Wiggins was armed when he was caught.

Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe has said the patrol car was moved “by the suspect’s actions,” but he would not elaborate.

At the funeral, Jeremy Etheridge, a Cheatham County sheriff’s deputy, noted how Baker asked him to shave his back with electric clippers before his first date with the woman he eventually married, Lisa Schrock Baker. He obliged.

Baker was on a mission to do what he had to do to get Lisa, Etheridge said.

“There is a saying, ‘Friends help friends,’” Etheridge said, evoking laughter when he added, “But real friends will shave another’s back — only if there’s alcohol involved.”

Sheriff Bledsoe reminisced about nicknaming Baker “Daniel-san,” a nod to The Karate Kid.

In honor of Baker, Bledsoe said he is going to ask government leaders to look into changing a legal system in which crime victims, including officers, and their relatives can spend decades waiting for justice.

“Defendants have rights,” Bledsoe said. “But where are the rights of the victims and families?”

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