A hearse carrying fallen McAlester Police Capt. Richard Parker passes underneath a large American flag flown by members of the McAlester and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant Fire Departments.

Our community is grieving the loss of two police officers — and rallying around their family and loved ones.

Family, friends and emergency responders gathered Wednesday for the funeral service of McAlester Police Capt. Richard Parker. The community also rallies around the family of Patrolman Joseph Barlow who died this week after succumbing to injuries suffered in a head-on collision while helping bring Parker back home to rest.

Our thoughts are with the officers’ family and friends mourning their loss — and our community is rallying around them for support.

Parker, 52, was found dead at his home March 16 after he did not show up for his shift. Investigators said there was no sign of foul play or violence.

He was born on May 28, 1970, to Rickey J. Parker and Linda (Newman) Parker, graduated from Wetumka High School in 1988 and attended East Central University.

After graduating a degree in criminal justice, Parker worked for the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office before joining the McAlester Police Department in July 1996.

Parker was promoted to sergeant in 2012, lieutenant in 2014, and captain in 2020 and was serving as the day shift captain when he died.

“Richard was a strong leader and cared about the men and women that worked for him,” said McAlester Police Lt. Preston Rodgers during the Wednesday service. “He made sure everyone was taken care of. And I heard him say more than one time, family first.

“He was the true definition of what we call brother.”

Several officers from MPD travelled Friday to Tulsa to escort Parker from the medical examiner’s office to a funeral home in Wetumka.

A truck didn’t stop for the procession, swerved to avoid hitting a stopped vehicle and ran head-on into Barlow’s vehicle on Highway 75 just north of 151st St. South, according to the Glenpool Police Department. Barlow died Monday at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

Barlow graduated from McAlester High School in 2015 and served in the U.S. Army before working for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

He was sworn in as a patrolman for the McAlester Police Department on Aug. 12, 2021. Barlow was surrounded by family, friends and local law enforcement officers when he died Monday, and he served his country and the community of McAlester with great pride.

Barlow’s services were not yet finalized Wednesday afternoon, but undoubtedly a swath of law enforcement, emergency responders and citizens will honor his life.

“We ask that you keep officer Barlow’s friends, family, and community in your thoughts as they grieve this great loss and continue to cope with recent tragedies,” MPD said.

Community members and emergency responders rallied last weekend around the MPD offices for a prayer vigil in Barlow’s honor.

A steak fundraiser dinner Tuesday night raised nearly $31,000 for Barlow’s family. Another fundraiser raised $4,000 for the Barlow and Parker families.

There are so many others doing what they can to support the families in this time of need.

We applaud everyone involved in helping support these families through tragic times and will keep the families in our thoughts.

McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board

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