NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — The Norton Shores Police Department is seeing an outpouring of support after losing one of their own in an on-duty crash.
Officer Jonathan Ginka, 34, was severely injured when his cruiser hit a tree early Wednesday morning on Henry Street between Ross and Forest Park roads. He died at the hospital.
Longtime officials say Ginka is the first on-duty officer the Norton Shores Police Department has lost.
The Norton Shores Police Department’s offices were closed Wednesday in response to Ginka’s death. Officers from area agencies came together to support Norton Shores police by handling their police calls.
Community members are also reaching out to the force. A woman took a taxi cab to the police department Wednesday to leave a bouquet of flowers at the office entrance and a makeshift memorial including flowers and a flag was set up at the crash site.
Marilyn Bush of Norton Shores brought lunch to the grieving officers. Her thoughts were with Ginka’s wife and two children.
“I’m not sure I’d have the strength to give my husband up willingly for anyone and yet they do it every day, knowing that that might be the day that their husband does not come home and their kids’ daddy doesn’t come home,” said Bush. “But the Bible says if you give up your life for a friend, that’s the ultimate test of love. To me, it’s not just the officer, it’s his family who loves the community and gives and sacrifices. Our hearts and prayers go out to the officer’s wife and his children.”
Gov. Rick Snyder also expressed his condolences.
“The thoughts and prayers of myself, my family, but all Michiganders go out to the family in something like this,” he told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “And it just re-enforces the thanks we need to give to all our first responders, whether they be law enforcement, firefighters. They’re putting themselves in harm’s way to help us. Let’s be proud of that. Let’s make sure we tell them thank you.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley were also among the state leaders and law enforcement groups sharing their prayers and condolences for Ginka’s family and fellow officers on social media.
“Police officers are the best among us. They literally lay their lives on the line. So sorry for this tragic loss,” Calley tweeted.
The North Muskegon Fire Department, where Ginka previously worked, and the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office also shared messages of condolences on Facebook.
Ginka’s former instructor from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s police academy also responded.
“It’s a terrible day and I’m with a broken heart,” Robert Todd Christensen wrote on Facebook. “You will never be forgotten,” he added.