Good afternoon, everyone. As I look out across this vast room filled with Pat Carothers’ friends, colleagues, fellow law enforcement officers, and most importantly, his family, it’s clear to me that I don’t have the words to adequately capture the depth of your loss or the height of his valor. The overwhelming swirl of pain, anger, loss, and disbelief combined with admiration, reverence and love defies prose. But we gather here together today to comfort his family and one another and to pay tribute to Pat’s legacy of honor, patriotism and sacrifice.
As a former AUSA and U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, I was privileged to work in the Northern District of Georgia with Pat for many years. I can tell you that Pat Carothers was the personification of all that is good about law enforcement.
Pat was known all across this state as a “can-do” kind of guy – the person you called when you needed help, when you were looking for advice, or sometimes when you really needed a laugh.
In the U.S. Attorney’s office, Pat is remembered as the calm in the middle of every storm. No matter what the challenge, Pat was famous for saying that he would “take care” of it. And take care of it, and all of us, he did. Gentry Shelnutt, the Criminal Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s office, said he had thought Pat was only that way with him, but it turned out he was that way with everyone, and in Gentry’s words, “that’s what made him special.”
And he was special to his colleagues in the Marshals Service, as well. One of his fellow deputies told me that he was the best supervisor that any new deputy could have – that, in a fatherly way, he would let you know if you messed up, and then teach you by example how to do it right. He was always encouraging them, motivating them and looking out for them in ways large and small. In fact, one deputy said she had a tendency to leave her car lights on when she parked, so after a few instances of this, Pat started waiting for her by the door just to make sure that she had turned her lights off.
To Pat’s colleagues in the U.S. Marshals Service, many of whom are here with us today, I know that this is a particularly difficult shock to absorb. But the U.S. Marshals Service is nothing if not resilient. Every day, with every warrant, you perform some of the Department’s most dangerous work, and you have a history of persevering through adversity that would overwhelm others. I know that you will honor Pat’s memory by carrying on your critical mission with the wise and generous spirit that defined Pat Carothers.
As committed as Pat was to the Marshals Service, as one of his colleagues told me this week, he was first and foremost a family man. He adored his wife, Terry, and their five children and he lived every day totally devoted to them. It wasn’t just his badge that marked Pat Carothers as a hero, but rather the way he lived his life, day in and day out, committed to family, friends, and country. It was his willingness, in moments of crisis, to go where he needed to go and do what he needed to do, confronting difficulty and danger, placing the safety of others above his own. And now, just as Pat, in his fatherly way, was always taking care of his colleagues, those colleagues now wrap Pat’s family in their collective arms to protect and comfort them. That’s what the law enforcement family is all about.
Pat will be dearly missed, and each of us and our country will be forever in his debt. We can help to make certain that his commitment – to holding accountable those who break our laws, and to ensuring justice for all people – will guide us forward and will continue to inspire acts of service, of selflessness, and of courage among his colleagues and peers. And his abiding love – for his wife and children; for his family and friends; and for the community that has come together to bid him farewell – will always be with us.
So today – as we mourn one of our own, and say goodbye to one of our very best – let us honor Pat Carothers’ memory with our own deeds. Let us rally around the relatives, friends, and colleagues he leaves behind. Let us stand vigilant against the violence that too many of our law enforcement officers face. And let us resolve – here and now – that we will live our lives, as he did, focused on what we “can do” for others; that his cause will become our own; and that Pat, his story, his bravery – and his shining example – will never be forgotten.
May he rest in peace.