Anniston dedicates Justice Center to murdered officer - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Anniston dedicates Justice Center to murdered officer

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ANNISTON - AL -

Justice for Justin Sollohub.

The city of Anniston named its new justice center in honor of the 27-year-old officer shot and killed two years ago.  Sollohub was on duty and chased a suspect on foot around 11 a.m. on August 24, 2011.  Investigators said Joshua Eugene Russell shot Sollohub in the head as the officer rounded a corner.  Sollohub died one day later.

His mother and stepfather, Jeniffer and Byron Morris, cut a red ribbon Tuesday afternoon at the dedication ceremony of the Justin Sollohub Justice Center.  The $15-million facility is the new home for the police department headquarters, the city jail, and the municipal courtroom.

"I know he's thrilled his name's big on the front of the building.  It's exciting," Jeniffer Morris said.

She said she drives adds a block or two to her morning commute to drive past the justice center and see her son's name.

"I get to see it every day and it means so much," she said.

About 200 people gathered outside for Tuesday's dedication ceremony.  A police honor guard paid tribute to their fallen colleague with a 21 gun salute, followed by a ceremonial flag raising in Sollohub's honor.

"We miss him every day.  We would give anything to have him back here.  We would give this building up and go right back to the old one.  We'd rather have him here with us," police chief Shane Denham said.

Chief Denham said Sollohub's death marked the worst day of his career, and that the building dedication does not do anything for him to help make up for the loss.  However, he said the completion of the building project is a physical symbol of a new unity in Anniston.  Denham said the community was much more divided before Sollohub's death than it is now.

"It's very unfortunate that it took a death for that to happen," he said.  "On that day and for a few days after that, crime kind of stood still, and this community kind of came together.

"We could think of no better name than that Justin Sollohub Justice Center for this building."

After the 21-gun salute, the flag raising, and the ribbon cutting, the crowd packed the new municipal courtroom to hear comments from Denham, his two predecessors as chief--Layton McGrady and John Dryden--and mayor Vaughn Stewart.

"He's so important to so many people. That means a lot. It's an honor for this to be taking place," Jeniffer Morris said.

"I know now, everybody he worked with, everybody that meant so much to him at work.  They're safe, they're in this building now,"

Joshua Eugene Russell, now 28, is scheduled to go to trial in September.  A Calhoun County judge moved the capital murder case to Lee County in an effort to find a fair and impartial jury, due to public knowledge of the case by people in the Anniston area.

People in Calhoun County hope the court system will also find justice for Justin Sollohub.

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