Friend Honors OHP Trooper Killed By Offering Schools Active Shooter Training
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma - Thursday is the 34th anniversary of the murder of Trooper Leon Bench, who was killed during a traffic stop near Kellyville.
Friend and fellow trooper Ken Stafford created a the Trooper Leon Bench Foundation in his memory - the goal of the foundation is to provide active shooter training for every school in Oklahoma.
It’s something Stafford, now a retired trooper, said is in great need after cases like Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech.
Stafford worked at Sapulpa police with Bench then they went through the OHP academy and became troopers together.
Stafford even performed Bench’s wedding and was overjoyed when they had a baby girl. Bench’s daughter was only three months old when he was killed by a man Stafford had taken to jail months earlier.
"He told them, ‘The next trooper that stops me, I'm going to kill him,'” Stafford said.
He said Bench and the suspect, Charles Brown, got into a fight during a traffic stop and Brown made it back to his car, get a gun and start shooting.
"We know he stood there and fired at least three rounds at Leon,” Stafford said. “Leon took a defensive position behind his car, and, at the exact wrong time raised up and a bullet hit him straight between the eyes."
A 48-hour manhunt led to Brown's arrest.
Bench was buried and Stafford swore he would honor his memory by doing something good for others; that idea became to train schools on how to respond to active shooters, especially after Sandy Hook.
"It was over in four minutes and 34 seconds. The PD got there three minutes after it started and they couldn't stop it. If we believe, ‘Hey, dialing 911 solves this problem,’ police cannot get there fast enough, so we need to train," Stafford said.
They've had 70 requests but have only been able to do 14 so far because the training takes money, so they're holding a Trooper Leon Bench Blue Run next April, just west of Sapulpa.