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Show choir pays tribute to fallen officer

December 21, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

SMITHSBURG

Smithsburg High School student Robbie Veil on Friday recounted a brief conversation he had with Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson earlier this week.

Nicholson was directing traffic after school Wednesday, when they spoke to wish each other a Merry Christmas, Veil said.

Later that evening, Nicholson was fatally shot in the line of duty.

"We were just talking about how the day was going," Veil said. "When this town lost Chris ... It just didn't lose an officer; it lost a son."

Veil and fellow members of the Smithsburg High School Sonix Show Choir gathered in the cold Friday morning in front of Town Hall to remember Nicholson. Many of the students tried in vain to hold back tears as they sang "Yesterday" by The Beatles.

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"We've been doing a lot of songs by The Beatles, and I thought they would work really well (on this occasion)," said Ruth Hobson, theater and choral director at Smithsburg High School.

Hobson said she read about Nicholson's death in The Herald-Mail and decided Friday morning to stage the event. Shortly thereafter, the students walked from the high school to Town Hall.

Students stood on the sidewalk as they sang. Before their arrival, people had placed a makeshift memorial near the front steps with signs that read "We Miss You," "God Bless You Rest In Peace" and "Please Keep Officer Nicholson & His Family In Your Prayers."

Inside Town Hall, there was a bouquet of flowers and a picture of Nicholson on his desk. His jacket was draped over the back of his chair.

"We haven't removed it," Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.

She said she believed Nicholson left the jacket behind as he rushed in response to a call to help apprehend Douglas Wayne Pryor, 29, of Smithsburg. Police were trying to find Pryor, who they said had fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Alison Munson, 31, in her Halfway home.

Nicholson was waiting for backup in a driveway off Welty Church Road when he and Pryor crossed paths, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said Thursday. Pryor shot Nicholson, who was found by deputies lying next to his police cruiser in the middle of a field off Welty Church Road, Mullendore said. Nicholson was flown to Washington County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police continued searching for Pryor, whom they found in a pickup truck at about 11:20 p.m. near Midvale Street and Misty Meadow Road in Ringgold, Mullendore said. Pryor was wounded in a gun battle with police before being arrested.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department charged Pryor on Thursday in both of the slayings.

Myers said residents have been coming into Town Hall since Thursday to ask whether they could help.

"I was here 12 hours (Thursday), and that's all I got - people coming in to show their support," Myers said. "It's nonstop, and I don't care. I just appreciate it."

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