Officer Tom White Dies
Hamilton, NJ – Hamilton Police Officer Tom White died on Monday, June 19 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while he was off-duty.
According to The Trentonian, the incident occurred about 3:10 PM in the 2700 block of Nottingham Way. He died from a ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head’, according to the coroner.
He was sitting in his truck at the time, and his truck then collided with a white commercial van. It isn’t clear if Officer White shot himself while his vehicle was in motion, or if his vehicle was stopped and started rolling after he shot himself.
He was found by Hamilton police officers ‘unconscious and unresponsive’ when they responded to investigate the reported traffic collision, according to New Jersey.com.
Officer White, age 44, was the beloved school resource officer at Reynolds Middle School. Both the students and Hamilton Township were reported to be ‘stunned’ by what had happened. There are unconfirmed reports that he had been complaining of ‘not feeling’ well in the days before the incident, but gave no other indication that he might be suicidal.
On Tuesday, June 20, many Reynolds students wore blue to show their support for Officer White. The school itself ‘had several displays paying tribute’ to Officer White for his service. At the school’s entrance, there was a message that said “You will be missed, Officer White.”
Another message included a quote from author John Steinbeck: “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone,” with an added message of “You are missed, Officer White.” His empty parking spot became a memorial, with flowers and a floating blue balloon.
A student named Brian was one of many who chose to wear blue on Tuesday. He said, “He was really a nice guy. He brightened everyone’s day. I feel sorry for his family and friends.”
Officer White was honored in January by the Hamilton Township Board of Education for his service as a school resource officer. In a letter that was read at the board meeting, a student said, “Thank you for being kind, helpful, nice, cheerful and respectful to our school. It takes a lot to be a police officer, and you are the best. Thank you for making our school a happy and better place to be.”
In a statement, Hamilton Police Chief James Collins said “Officer Thomas White was a fine officer that performed his job well and was extremely well-liked. He will be greatly missed. On behalf of the entire Hamilton Police Division, our thoughts and prayers are with Officer White’s family.”
Dr. Scott Rocco, Hamilton Township school superintendent, said in a letter, “Officer White was known to so many in our school community and had a positive influence on all who met him. He was respected by the faculty and staff of Reynolds and across our district, adored by the students he worked with, and a positive influence in our schools.”
No other injuries were reported. Many in the community changed their Facebook profiles to the Hamilton police crest with a blue and black line’; some profiles showed White’s badge number: 465.
Hamilton Police Officer Tom White was a married father of two children who attend Hamilton public schools. He joined the department in 2009. In early 2016, he was assigned as ‘a L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) officer in the district’s Reynolds Middle School’, and also ‘served as co-director of the township’s Police Athletic League Safety Town’.
He was previously assigned as a patrol officer, where he received numerous awards, including an award for his and another officer’s efforts to save the lives of two people at a ‘fatal’ house fire in January, 2011.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hamilton Police Officer Tom White, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Officer White, your life mattered.