Vargas: As slayings of two officers prove, there are some truly evil people in this world


One of the hardest things for the average person to understand is there are truly evil people walking our streets.

People without a moral compass and with no regard for the lives of others.

Thankfully, most of you will never encounter these evil citizens or be victimized by them. That’s because there are thousands of men and women in uniform who stand between you and them.

This week, two police officers came face to face with these evil citizens. In doing so, they lost their lives.

They were targeted because they wore a badge and uniform. They had both sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the land and maintain order — two things evil men cannot tolerate.

Now, the lives of the families of these two police officers are forever changed.

Utah Officer Douglas Barney was responding to a traffic accident. When he tried to contact the fleeing driver of one of the vehicles, he was shot and killed. A fellow officer was shot three times; thankfully, the officer will survive. The suspect fled along with his girlfriend. The suspect later was confronted by responding officers and killed.


Officer Douglas Barney, a cancer survivor, with his three children. Photo from Barney’s Facebook page.

Officer Barney was married with three teenage children. He was a cancer survivor who eagerly returned to police work after battling the disease several times.

In Danville, Ohio, Officer Thomas Cottrell was ambushed, shot and killed. He was parked behind a building — probably writing a report — when a suspect confronted him.

We still don’t know what happened, other than that Officer Cottrell was shot and killed. His weapon and police cruiser were stolen. Earlier, the suspect’s girlfriend called the police department to let them know her boyfriend was out to kill a cop. Dispatchers tried to warn Officer Cottrell.

Regrettably, the warning came too late. Officer Cottrell was found fatally wounded beside the city municipal building. The suspect later was found running from the area of the abandoned patrol car and taken into custody.

The suspect in the shooting of Officer Barney had numerous previous arrests. His criminal history included arrests for drugs, weapons, assault and theft. He was convicted of possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2015. He was imprisoned for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2014 and was jailed on parole violations in November and December last year.

The suspect in the shooting of Officer Cottrell also had numerous prior contacts with law enforcement. Court records show the 32-year-old suspect had multiple convictions for breaking and entering, burglary, receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon. He served nearly four years for convictions of burglary and receiving stolen property. He had been out of jail less than a year.

Both shootings were intentional. There is no rational explanation for their actions. Evil simply despises good and all of its manifestations.

We should all be grateful there are men and women who are stand between us and the evil ones who walk our streets. All police officers puts their lives on the line so we all can sleep better at night.

Rest in peace, Officer Barney and Officer Cottrell. Your thousands of fellow law enforcement partners will take it from here.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at