Chelsea church holds service in honor of slain police officer

CHELSEA – A Chelsea church recently held a special service in honor of a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty.

Mt. Signal Baptist Church Pastor Leonard Irvin said the church wanted to honor Sgt. Wytasha Carter and his family close to Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15—though there was no immediate connection between the church and Carter.

“They didn’t know me or my church, and I didn’t know them personally,” Irvin said, but at least part of the idea stemmed from Irvin having retired from the same Birmingham Police Department precinct at which Carter worked. “We wanted to show them some kindness and love and help them any way we could.”

Carter, a 44-year-old Air Force veteran, died from a gunshot wound in the early morning hours of Jan. 13, while investigating vehicle break-ins in the area of Fifth Avenue North in downtown Birmingham.

Another police officer sustained serious injuries in the incident, one suspect was taken into custody and a second suspect was shot.

Carter’s death was mourned in Birmingham and in Shelby County because Carter was a parent of a student and band member in the Oak Mountain community.

Thirteen officers representing BPD and Gardendale attended the service on Sunday, May 19, though Carter’s family was unable to attend.

The service included the presentation of a set of Bibles that will be given to members of Carter’s family and the church saying in unison, “We love you!”

“It touched them,” Irvin said.

Rod Glover, who worked for the Birmingham and Hoover police departments for more than 30 years, brought the message.

Irvin, along with Richard McFadden and Sandy Donmoyer, performed “Blue Line Battle Hymn,” a song that uses the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with lyrics written by Irvin that honor law enforcement and include, in part:

“In the color of their clothing, blue or brown or grey or green,

Their badges of commitment are worn with high esteem.

These protectors of society bravely intervene –

God’s blue line marches on.”

The church is located off Shelby County 280 (old Highway 280) in Chelsea, near Hargis Drive.