UCCS will honor Garrett Swasey, first responders Monday night at home-opening basketball game vs. Colorado College

November 28, 2016 Updated: November 28, 2016 at 7:08 am
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The Broadmoor Skating Club has named a trophy in honor of Garrett Swasey, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer who was killed in the Planned Parenthood rampage shooting last year. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

A year later, the students and staff at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are no longer in shock over the death of campus police officer Garrett Swasey, who was one of three people killed during a shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.

Now, the Mountain Lions men's basketball team wants to make sure he is not forgotten.

"It's important to not forget the circumstances around his death and the fact that he was willing to step onto the line to protect the community and our campus," UCCS coach Jeff Culver said. "His widow wants this to be a celebration and that's what we plan to do."

UCCS hosts Colorado College at 7:30 p.m. Monday for its home opener with a pregame ceremony recognizing Swasey and members of the UCCS Police Department, Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol and ambulance personnel.

Four city police officers and a sheriff's deputy were injured during the response to the shooter on Nov. 27, 2015. The suspect, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 58, remains in a psychiatric facility.

The game follows a 6:30 p.m. candlelight vigil on the El Pomar Plaza in the center of campus. UCCS, CC and city leaders will be on hand for the event.

Admission to the game is free with donations accepted for the Garrett Swasey Scholarship Fund.

CC coach Andy Partee said his team is honored to be included in the celebration.

"He wasn't just responding to protect the safety of the UCCS community but the Colorado Springs community as well," Partee said of Swasey.

Last year, UCCS fans recognized Swasey, 44, with a moment of silence and a salute to officers from the school's police department before the home opener, which was held a day after the shooting.

It was a surreal night for the team, who did not know Swasey personally but felt the pain of his colleagues they knew well from working security by the players benches, senior guard Tim Haas said.

"We have a strong sense of community here," he said. "The part that hit home was realizing that the police officers on our campus were willing to step into the line of fire, do their duty and make the ultimate sacrifice. We want to recognize, honor and remember him and the sacrifice that he made."

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