June 27 • 04:36 AM

'Protect yourself,' former cop warned

Capac shooting stirs up memories of 1970 for retired police officer

May 14, 2008
CAPAC — Like others who could recall the 1970 fatal shooting of Capac Police Chief William Lewis, David Mayer said the events of April 16 brought a flood of heartbreaking memories.

He too noted the similarities between the incident that left Chief Raymond Hawks seriously injured and the fatal 1970 shooting of Chief William Lewis.

Last week, Mayer, a retired constable and police officer, flipped through an album of 38 year-old newspaper clippings he'd almost forgot about.

Former police officer David Mayer with newspaper clippings from the 1970 shooting of Capac Police Chief William Lewis and subsequent recognition Mayer received for attempting to rescue Lewis while on scene. photo by Maria Brown.

"I was a constable in Berlin Twp. in the 70s and later became a Capac police officer," he said.

Mayer was off-duty at the time 'officer down' came over the police radio. The Memphis Police Chief had been shot three times by a disgruntled resident, Leland Dulaney.

Mayer and fellow officer Glenn Burk were installing a radio in a police cruiser when Burk caught the call. They grabbed their handguns, jumped in the car and headed south towards Memphis, Mayer said.

Chief Lewis arrived shortly after Mayer and Burk were on scene.

"I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Chief Lewis behind the tree when he was shot," Mayer said.

"The last words he said to me was 'Watch yourself. Protect yourself at all times.'"

Mayer said he couldn't tell where the shot came from but he knew he needed to protect himself and the wounded Lewis.

With the help of the chief's brother, Jim Lewis, a detective, Mayer managed to drag the Capac Police Chief out of harm's way. Mayer then broke out the window of a nearby pickup truck, shoved it into gear and let it roll to a position to provide cover.

Eventually, Mayer procured a deer hunting rifle from Dulaney's neighbor and gave it to Burk, who fatally shot the Memphis man.

"It was a scary day," Mayer admits.

"I didn't know if I was coming back home that night."

While fortunately the Memphis Police Chief survived, sadly Chief Lewis died from gunshot wounds.

Mayer was recognized for his bravery at the Memphis scene upon being named Constable of the Year.

Although it's not ancient history, Mayer said he's surprised more residents didn't know about Lewis's death.

"I start to talk about it and they look at me like 'what are you talking about?'" he said.

Ironically, Mayer chatted with Hawks outside of his Capac home the day before the shooting. As the police chief drove away, Mayer said he repeated a warning similar to Lewis's last words.

"Be careful. Protect yourself," Mayer told Hawks.

Hawks remains in serious condition in Port Huron Hospital after being shot outside of suspect Donald Burke's home. Hawks was following up on a reckless driving complaint leveled against the William G. Drive resident.

Burke is slated to next appear in court on May 27.

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