Slain officer's memory winner in inaugural Eric Williams Race for Justice
Relay-race on the campus of Luzerne County Community College was on one of 12 held nationally from California to New Hampshire to raise scholarship funds
By Jerry Lynott
NANTICOKE — Runners participated in the inaugural Eric Williams Race for Justice Saturday morning honoring the slain federal correctional officer in his hometown of Nanticoke.
The relay-race on the campus of Luzerne County Community College was on one 12 held nationally from California to New Hampshire to raise scholarship funds and raise awareness of the dangers faced daily by the men and women who work in corrections and law enforcement.
Don Williams, Eric’s father, thanked the more than 100 participants, most of them from law enforcement and corrections, for their turnout and the work they do.
“A lot of people just don’t understand what that’s about and how dangerous that is and there needs to be a lot of change,” he said.
He’s been working with others on legislation to make systematic changes in the federal prison system.
“What I’m hoping for right now, I’m trying to get Washington to have some subcommittee hearings on prison safety,” he said.
His 34-year-old son was killed on Feb. 25, 2013 while working a cell block at the United States Penitentiary Canaan in Wayne County. A federal grand jury indicted inmate Jesse Con-Ui on first-degree murder charges and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case that’s set for trial in July 2016.
Although the course was hilly and they were soaked from a passing shower runners didn’t complain.
Andrew Minnick, 30, of Glen Lyon, who works at USP Canaan, said his efforts on the course were nothing compared to those of Don Williams who is ” out there pushing and fighting for everyone of us.”
“The respect I have for that gentleman is off the charts,” Minnick said.
Rebecca Erickson, a teacher at USP Canaan joined in, saying Eric’s father probably doesn’t know how much he’s appreciated.
“We would do anything for that man,” she said. “That’s what he’s done for us.”
The team with the best time from all of the races will be brought to the college to receive $5,000 in scholarship funds at the school’s Walk of Honor ceremony on June 6. A plaque honoring Eric Williams hangs on the wall.