RICHMOND, Ind. — As Richmond Police Department officer Seara Burton continues to fight for her life, stories of the love and support she’s shown her community continue to emerge.
The 28-year-old officer and four-year veteran of the force was shot Wednesday evening around 6:30 while out on a traffic stop in the area of N 12th Street and C Street in Richmond.
“It has been a whirlwind 24 hours and many things have occurred. Firstly, Officer Seara Burton is still in extremely critical condition at a Dayton hospital after suffering a gunshot wound to her head,” Richmond police chief Michael Britt wrote Thursday night in an update.
“Surgery has been performed and she is initially showing slight signs of responsiveness. She has not regained consciousness and is still fighting for her life,” Britt added.
Burton had recently been elevated to the K9 unit, police said. According to Vohne Liche Kennels, Burton and her K9 partner graduated from the six-week training program last April.
Community members are rallying around the injured officer to show their love and support in return for what she’s shown the community. It’s their way to say “thank you” and that they’ve got her six in this fight.
“She can’t hear us right now, but we’re there and we’re not going anywhere,” said Doug Borgsdorf.
Borgsdorf, who is the business unit director for Primex Plastics Corporation, said his plant manager and several others got on the phone Wednesday night after hearing about what happened. Come 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, he said they were still on the phone and knew they had to do something.
“I don’t know there’s a lot you can do except just think about the person, pray for their family, pray for our officers,” said Borgsdorf.
He said they felt the next best option for them would be to find any way they can help as both a business and individuals, in showing their support for Burton and the Richmond Police Department.
“You know, the designs were just a way to keep her in the front and let everybody see her image, see her K9 unit and respect her officers,” said Borgsdorf.
He said their team decided to print a sign with a photo of Officer Burton and her K9 partner, Brev, displayed on it.
“We said, well we’ll make 100 and that will be great; will take care of our officers. I think by tomorrow morning we’re going to be at 1,000 and from 8 to 10 a.m. tomorrow we’ve got people showing up to pick them up,” said Borgsdorf.
Around 6 p.m. Thursday night, Borgsdorf said the plant’s manager remained at the facility after getting there in the early morning hours.
“We’re just gonna keep making them, and I think, when you look at the City of Richmond, we’re a fighting community,” said Borgsdorf. “I get a little choked up. It’s what America needs is our community to respond, so we’re going to just keep fighting for them and if I’ve got to print 10,000 will.”
“Our employees and community responded and we’re just going to keep doing what we need to do,” he added. “If the signs can make anybody feel a little bit better, or pray a little bit harder, or pick their neighbor up, then we did the right thing.”
While people have asked how much the signs cost, Borgsdorf said, they don’t cost a thing. Instead, he’s asking people who want to give money, to donate to any of the approved fundraisers set up at local banks or through organizations in the community.
“She didn’t deserve this, she was getting married next week. I’ve never met her, and I live in a small town but she’s there in my heart,” said Borgsdorf.
In addition to reaching the hearts of business owners, strangers, and other first responders, Burton also made an impact on children who attend safety programs at the Safety Village of Wayne County’s Summer Safety KAMP.
“In the summer program we do fire safety, we do gun safety, we do drug awareness, that’s where Seara came out here just a couple weeks ago and demonstrated with her partner Brev to about 75 little kids,” said Executive Director Rich Cody.
According to Cody, Burton came out to the program for two Saturdays in a row in mid-July.
“During that time we had about 40 kids each week,” he said. “When she brought Brev in, we set him up in our classroom and she explained, you know, what she was going to do. She interacted with the kids.”
“The kids just adored her and the dog. It was just kind of neat to be able to see firsthand from a kid’s perspective, what police officers do,” said Cody.
Cody said during the second week of training, he would estimate that 80 percent of the kids in the classroom were young girls.
“To see that role model to those girls that week, I know that had the girls thinking, but it was really neat to see her do what she does and do it in the manner that she did it,” Cody said.
While Cody doesn’t know Burton outside of their interactions in the summer programs, he said it wasn’t difficult to know from their interactions how much she loved her job and her ability to work on the K9 unit.
“I know her from her training here, and you can read people and she’s a good one,” Cody said. “You can automatically tell she had a passion for what she did. I think she had been a K9 officer or had a K9 partner for a short duration of time, but the way she adopted that position and talked about her partner, you know it was just really neat.”
“Everybody’s praying. That’s the main thing. I think it brings the community closer when things like this happen. It’s very unfortunate, and it really strengthens what we do here with the first responders and letting these little kids know you know, that you can go to the first responders,” Cody added.
On Friday night, the community is invited to attend a prayer vigil at the City Building.
“If you are privileged to know Officer Burton, you know she is a strong, resilient woman, and it’s her strength and your prayers that will give her the best chance to win this fight. If you would like to show your support, a prayer vigil is being held at the South entrance of the City Building at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 12. We continue to be humbled by the service of our officers and their families to our community,” City of Richmond Mayor Dave Snow shared on Facebook.
First responders are asked to bring with them their emergency vehicles as an additional showing of support, organizers said.
The impact of this tragedy is impacting not only RPD, but law enforcement officers and agencies near and far, including the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, where at least two of her family members are employed.
CBS4 Indy reached out to Sheriff Randy Retter, who shared, “Officer Burton needs the support from the community that she has always given to the community.”