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A memorial near where EBRSO Sgt. Shawn Thomas Anderson was fatally shot Saturday night while trying to question a rape suspect is beginning to form off O'Neal Lane Monday March 20, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La..

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

A region still raw from the loss of law enforcement officers in recent months must now mourn another officer who died doing his job.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Shawn Thomas Anderson, 43, was fatally shot while struggling with a rape suspect at a Baton Rouge hair salon on Saturday night. The suspect, 30-year-old Brandon Wiley, was also shot during the incident and was listed in critical condition at a local hospital Monday. He’s been booked on several charges, including first-degree rape. Louisiana State Police officials are investigating the shooting.

Anderson had attracted media attention last year after he helped a woman deliver her baby. He was the fourth law enforcement officer in East Baton Rouge Parish to die within the past eight months. Last July 17, a disturbed gunman shot six Baton Rouge area lawmen, killing three: EBR Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge Police Department Officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson.

The circumstances surrounding Anderson’s shooting are unclear, and we hope that the LSP investigation can help clarify what happened. But the consequences of Saturday’s tragedy are evident enough. South Louisiana residents must lay to rest yet one more lawman killed in the line of duty.

James Tullier, the father of Deputy Nick Tullier, who is still struggling with the serious wounds he received in the July 17 attack, was among the first residents to offer condolences to Anderson’s family.

The Tullier family’s presence in coverage of Anderson was a powerful reminder that long after daily media attention has moved elsewhere, tragedies involving law enforcement officers continue to impact households.

That reality was vivid last week, when Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans honored four area officers who had died as a result of their work: NOPD Officers Natasha Hunter and Jude Williams Lewis; Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy David Michel; and Westwego Police Department Officer Michael Louviere.

During a deeply emotional Fallen Heroes award ceremony, family members of the departed officers received tearful standing ovations as the crowd gathered at the Hyatt Regency rose to its feet.

The resolve of these suffering families, which was apparent during last week’s ceremony, must now become our own as we grieve another tragic loss of life in local law enforcement.

Residents read of Anderson’s death in the morning paper on Monday— the first day of spring, a time when the hours of daylight and darkness divide just about evenly. That sense of balance has seemed so elusive in our local life these past few months, as the incidents claiming law enforcement officers sometimes make us wonder if darkness is winning out.

But we’ve seen the ultimate sacrifice in the thin blue line protecting us all. Such courage compels us to hope for a better spring.