ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — When Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm was killed in January 2018, the law enforcement community made a promise to his family that he would never be forgotten.
“It’s kind of a sweet sorrow,” Heath’s father, Jim Gumm, said in his first sit-down interview with FOX31’s Deborah Takahara. “It’s wonderful everyone is keeping his name alive and keeping his memories alive. But it is very tough for me at times to see things on the news, pictures, things like that. It brings back so many memories.”
“I still have days when I’m struggling and when I’m having a real rough time. But it’s happy memories and good memories,” Gumm said.
Jim Gumm said the support has been amazing, and continues to this day. Now it is his family’s turn to help others. They started the Deputy Heath Gumm Foundation to give back. It’s a nonprofit that supports law enforcement, first responders and nonprofit groups.
“Each year we decide a different group or organization doing fantastic work and things to further the memory of fallen officers. They would do anything for us. Giving back to all these entities, it just makes us feel good,” Gumm said.
They will host their annual Gummball 5k race on Aug. 21.
“We raise money mainly through this race. I use the term lightly because more and more of us, it’s just an enjoyable walk,” Gumm said.
‘An emotional rollercoaster’
In October, after lengthy delays and a mistrial partly because of the pandemic, Heath’s killer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster. If it wasn’t bad enough my son had been murdered, it was an emotional rollercoaster just dealing with the court system and going through everything we had to go through,” Gumm said. “They got the right person, they got the right verdict, they got the right sentence. I guess it’s closure for that portion. It’s still so difficult, because my son’s not here, and he never will be.”
Gumm said his son was his best friend. They would camp and fish and work on the 1965 Thunderbird that Heath bought with his own money when he was a teenager.
“That car sat parked until 2018. His wife asked me if I’d like to have it after he was killed. I said yes. So I’ve spent the last three years rebuilding that car. I’ve got it now to where it needs a paint job. It will probably show up at the Gumball 5k. It needs a paint job, but everything else is done. It’s totally in honor of him. It is filled with ‘blue line’ things, and I have a bag with his ashes in it. I carry around with me,” Gumm said.
Gumm said the past few years have been extremely difficult and dangerous for law enforcement.
“It is one of the most stressful careers I can think of. The stress of dealing with people, and nowadays it seems people are more than willing to shoot at officers or shoot at other people. That makes their job so much more stressful, knowing that people no longer think twice about taking a shot of them,” Gumm said.
“Plus, they are under the microscopic eye of the public, legislators, even the media,” Gumm said. “Everything they do is in a fishbowl. I have many, many family and friends involved in law enforcement. Every one of them that I know is in it for the right reasons: to protect the citizens.”
Gumm said he would like people to come out to support first responders at the Gummball 5K.
- Date: Saturday, Aug. 21
- Location: Riverdale Regional Park, Brighton
- Proceeds benefit: Brotherhood for the Fallen Aurora, which sends uniformed officers to funerals for officers killed in the line of duty. They also provide financial help to the fallen officer’s families.