Martinus Mitchum loved three things.
He loved church, where you could find him every Sunday and Thursday.
He loved children, although he had none of his own.
And he loved law enforcement, the career he was so ambitious for and the one that ultimately led to his tragic death on Friday night.
Mitchum, a Tulane University police officer and a reserve agent for the city’s second court, was working in a security detail at a basketball game at George Washington Carver High School when he was shot and killed. Mitchum died after intervening in an altercation between John Shallerhorn and a school administrator, and police say Shallerhorn later admitted to police that he shot Mitchum.
“It hurts because he was one of the best,” said Lyn Clark, a former soccer player at O. Perry Walker High School, where Mitchum worked from 2006 to 2016. “They killed someone who helped so many African American students get out of there and become in something. He always supported everything. How do you take the life of someone who helped the lives of so many people who said they weren’t going to be anything? “
Clark, now 26, was one of those people Mitchum always kept an eye on. But Mitchum, or “Mitch” as they all called him, kept an eye on everyone.
Everyone was “my son” or “my daughter” to him.
“We would always make fun of him and tell Mitch that you have more kids than anyone else because you’re so young,” said Sheryl Eaglin, Mitchum’s former co-worker.
Mitchum and Eaglin joined O. Perry Walker in 2006. Over time, he became a family to her.
“Sometimes he teased me like a little brother, but he was so genuine and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for those kids,” Eaglin said.
Mitchum, a native of Detroit, was working security at the school when he started. But that did not last long.
“We moved him to other positions because of how well he dealt with kids and his other abilities,” said Tarance Davis, the school’s former athletic director. Mitchum was put in charge of student data and enrollment and also became the director of basketball and soccer operations.
In the 2013-14 school year, O. Perry Walker merged with Landry High School to form Landry-Walker and the school won the state basketball championship the first season. It was the first of three state titles in four years for the school.
“We probably wouldn’t have those championships that we have in basketball if it weren’t for Mitch,” Davis said. “He just has a heart for the well-being of children. He played a vital role with the organization and administrative parties to put that program into what it became.
Brian Gibson was the coach of those teams and said they couldn’t have done it without Mitchum, who handled all the administrative duties. He booked hotels on road trips, made food arrangements, and did all other chores behind the scenes.
“He was really responsible, making sure all of our business was in place,” Gibson said. “We were very successful and a lot of that was because I didn’t have to worry about those things. You think about how many kids we were able to send to college. He worked directly with them to make sure they had what they needed and respected him for that. It wasn’t. more than love for him and the children. He expected certain things and wanted them to be done in a certain way and I think the children appreciated that from him. “
Because of his love for the church, many family members in his hometown of Detroit thought that when he grew up he would become a preacher. But enforcing the law was his dream, so he pursued it. He graduated from the Slidell Police Department Basic Reserve Police Academy in 2014. He also spent time as an officer at Loyola University. “(Mitchum) was a dedicated law enforcement professional who had a heart of service to the Tulane community,” Tulane officials said in a statement Saturday.
Mitchum, who was wearing a uniform at the time of the shooting, was taken to the University Medical Center by paramedics and shortly afterwards pronounced dead.
“What I was most proud of was seeing the escort who came to the hospital,” Eaglin said of how police cleared the way for the ambulance on the interstate. “He deserves it. If you could choose how to go, it would probably be what Mitch would have chosen with security. He loved to protect people, like the children who were inside that gym. We don’t know what could have happened if this person had entered the gym with a gun. “
Mitchum often commented publicly on the state of law enforcement in the country. Just two days before his death, he wrote on Twitter that he supported the requirements that officers wear body cameras and that favored officers be decertified if they do their jobs poorly or are shown to be racist.
On Thursday, he retweeted a message from Vice President Kamala Harris supporting George Floyd’s Police Justice Act, named after the man killed by Minneapolis police in 2020 and aimed at reviewing qualified immunity for law enforcement. , among other things.
In their own statement, Carver officials called Mitchum “a fixture” at school sporting events and noted how he sacrificed his life to fulfill his duty.
“It is with great regret … (that) we honor his memory,” Carver’s statement said.
“This is a tragic situation for … everyone who had to experience this,” said Easton Chairman of the Board of Directors David Garland.
Defense journalists Ramon Antonio Vargas and Della Hasselle contributed to this report.