Community mourns loss of two Topeka police officers killed in line of duty

TOPEKA, Kan. - A city is in mourning after two police officers in Topeka were killed Sunday night.

Cpl. David Gogian and Ofc. Jeff Atherly were fatally shot while checking on a suspicious vehicle.

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A mother gathered with her children in prayer Monday morning. The group prayed outside of the memorial site for the two officers killed.

"Father, I just pray that somehow, someway, you show your face and comfort all of us," said Jessica Westfall, a Topeka resident.

Westfall did not know the police officers, but feels their loss.

"They protect me and my family and my kids -- they become family. So I just feel like I just lost two brothers," Westfall said.

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller described the two officers as salt of the earth.

He said Gogian was outgoing and friendly and had a big personality.

"He is not a real big guy, he was a short guy, but the reason I say that is, you still knew who the boss was when Gogian showed up," Mill said.

The news hit retired Topeka Police Officer Dave Thomas hard. Years ago, he helped train Gogian in firearms and remembers him well.

"You get close to them as the range instructor, to each individual that comes through there because you are responsible for training them on how to protect themselves," Thomas said.

Gogian was a United States military veteran and served with the Topeka Police Department for eight years. His son is also a Topeka police officer.

Atherly joined the department in April 2011.

"I would say he was a little quieter than other guys. Because they are new employees, they are still trying to find their way around the fraternity of police officers with 18 months on the job," Miller said.

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Atherly was 29 years old and had only been a member of the department for about 18 months. He was completing his required probationary period.

"Jeff was doing a good job. He was responding to the call just like hundreds of thousands of police officers," Miller said.

Officers said they will keep the two men alive in their memories.

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