Trooper Lucas Dowell could light up a room with his smile. In the days following his line-of-duty murder, everyone who knew him remembered the smile that always seemed to reach his eyes. That smile is now forever preserved.
During the Virginia State Police Officers’ Memorial Service Thursday morning in North Chesterfield County, the state’s law enforcement agency unveiled Trooper Dowell’s portrait.
Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent, presented a copy of the portrait to Dowell’s parents, Mike and Becky, and his sister, Erica.
The portrait of Trooper Dowell, who grew up in Chilhowie, now hangs in the Colonel C.W. Woodson Jr. Memorial Gallery within the Virginia State Police Academy. The 28-year-old’s portrait joins those of 65 other men and women who died in the line-of-duty while serving the citizens of the commonwealth.
State Sen. Bill Carrico, a former trooper and friend of the Dowells, noted the late trooper’s smile in his keynote address. The retiring state senator said Dowell “had his mother’s infectious smile and his father’s quick wit and it became how he was identified among all those who knew him.”
Carrico also reflected on Lucas Dowell’s character and integrity, saying he “was never afraid to admit his mistakes and was always learning from those mistakes to correct what he had done wrong.”
Dowell was a graduate of Chilhowie High School and Radford University. At the time of his death, Mike Sturgill, who was Dowell’s principal at Chilhowie Elementary and Chilhowie High School, said, “The word ‘outstanding’ doesn’t touch Lucas Dowell,” citing his work ethic, his character and his morals.
Dowell played football and baseball for CHS. Dowell’s personality shone as an athlete, Sturgill said, saying he would always do whatever the team needed.
Finally, Carrico reflected on the violent tragedy that claimed the young trooper’s life.
Trooper Dowell was a member of the Virginia State Police Tactical Team that was assisting a regional Drug and Gang Task Force with executing a search warrant at a Cumberland County residence, just north of Farmville. The search was being conducted as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation.
On Feb. 4, the tactical team made entry into the home shortly before 10 p.m. when a man inside the residence began shooting at them. The tactical team members returned fire, fatally wounding the man. Trooper Dowell succumbed to his injuries later at a nearby hospital.
Carrico turned to his Christian faith, shared by the Dowells, for comfort. “Mike and Becky,” he said, “I have prayed that I would just have some words that could help comfort you from the wounds this tragedy has left on you and many others, I firmly believe if Lucas could say anything today and each morning as you face another day it would be to fight and let those wounds began to heal and tell the story of how he followed the same steps Jesus took by laying down my life for those whom he loved and those who he had never met.”
The senator quoted Edmond Burke, an Anglo-Irish statesman and author, who “once wrote ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ Carrico continued, “On the night of Feb. 4, a group of good men answered the call and triumphed over evil, but at a great cost, and it left us all with wounded hearts. However, with time those wounds will heal, and scars will remain. Then with those scars we will be able to tell the story of a hero, a friend, a son, a brother and how thankful we are for the time we had to know Lucas and how costly of a sacrifice he made for all of us.”