A St. Louis County police officer shot and killed October 6 filled his Facebook page with pictures of his child in police regalia and posted a memorial picture of a slain Memphis officer that included a powerful and now even more poignant phrase: “I matter.”
Snyder, 33, was a four-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department who was gunned down while responding to a disturbance call, police said. Police said he was shot “pointblank,” immediately after exiting his squad car. He left behind a young family. His wife, a year after his death, posted a heartbreaking note on Facebook. You can read it below.
The suspect was identified as Trenton Forster, an 18-year-old already facing a felony marijuana charge and who allegedly filled his social media account with disgust for the police and posts about drug use.
Wrote one law enforcement colleague on the site Police/LEO/Cop Relatives & Friends: “This Officer should NEVER have died. His legacy will be one of great honor and service to his country, the people in his community and his church. God Bless Officer Blake Snyder and please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. I am still in shock over this one, as he is in my precinct and I know him.”
The death of Snyder on October 6 comes after a sheriff’s sergeant was shot and killed in California the day before while responding to a burglary call.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Snyder Became a Police Officer Because His Father-In-Law Was an Officer Who Died of Cancer & Snyder Leaves Behind a Young Family
KMOV-TV said that Snyder was survived by a wife and a son who is only 2-years-old. On social media, Snyder’s posts are dominated by his young family.
St. Louis Today said Snyder’s father-in-law and brother-in-law were both police officers. Snyder died after responding to the call around 5:05 a.m. in the 10700 block of Arno in Green Park.
According to Fox 2, Snyder became a police officer because his father-in-law, Mike Sparks, was a police officer who died of cancer.
According to Fox 2 Now St. Louis, Snyder “was a part of the community at Destiny Church in West County,” and he met his wife, Elizabeth, through that church community.
Many of his Facebook posts revolved around his boy, including pictures of the child as an infant surrounded by police regalia, such as a hat, belt, and handcuffs, and even wearing a police onesie. Snyder’s Facebook page says he is from Godfrey, Illinois.
An officer memorial site wrote on a photo of Snyder’s son, “My daddy’s life mattered to me!” Snyder’s social media posts show a close bond between father and son.
Elizabeth frequently wrote about her love for her husband on social media. She also regularly posted now heart-breaking family photos, as did he. If you want to donate to help Snyder’s family, the Police Department suggests you use Backstoppers.
A year after her husband died, Elizabeth posted this note on Facebook:
“One year ago…
I was awakened shortly after 5am to a phone call from my brother. Why would Justin be calling me so early? It hadn’t clicked yet. All he said was, ‘Elizabeth, you need to get yourself up and get Malachi ready to leave because I’m on my way to pick you up. Something’s happened to Blake.’ It still hadn’t registered in my brain that something serious was going on.
Ok, ok. Put some clothes on. Put my hair up. Packed the diaper bag. Then it hit me. Call Justin back. ‘What happened to him? Tell me, Justin. Tell me right now.’ He wouldn’t. So I just figured Blake was injured. That was it.
I will NEVER forget that ride. Racing down 270 at 120mph, practically flying. And then Justin gets a call as we are pulling up to the hospital. And I could see it on his face. My love, my closest friend, my confidant- was gone. Just like that. Shock took over my body. That day is still a haze. I remember seeing him, not being able to touch him because of the crime that was committed. I didn’t even get to hold his hand one last time. I didn’t get to kiss him, or hug him. Or be close to him. He was taken away from me, and all I could do was cry.
Today marks one year since the worst day of my life. And I feel like it was yesterday. As I go over that day in my mind, all I can think is- if there was less hate in this world, maybe he would still be alive. If there was more compassion and understanding in this life, maybe he would still be alive. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand why God allowed this to happen. Maybe when I reach Heaven, I’ll know. But by then it won’t matter, because I’ll get to hug him again. We will laugh together again. And I can hold him again. But until then, I’ll be patient. I’ll be strong. And I will continue his legacy by raising Malachi in the way he would have wanted. We will make it. We will.”
2. Snyder’s Last Public Facebook Post Was of Another Slain Officer Holding a Sign Reading ‘I Matter’
The memorial post that Snyder shared was for Memphis officer Verdell Smith, who was run down and killed, allegedly by a fleeing murder suspect.
Smith also had an incredibly moving story. News 3 said Smith formed “a program for juvenile offenders to deter young kids from crime” and quoted the Memphis Police Association president as saying, “This was a good one. This was a good one. Most are good, but this was a good guy.”
The tribute was the last public post on Snyder’s page.
St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar described Snyder as a “great guy,” who was a “dedicated and a very good police officer,” said CBS St. Louis.
The Police Department lowered its flag for Snyder a few hours after the shooting. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt wrote of Snyder, “The Snyder family lost a father and husband today, and the St. Louis community lost a hero. We are eternally grateful for his service, and we will never forget the sacrifice he and his family have made on our behalf.”
A candlelight vigil is planned, and police placed memorials on Synder’s squad car.
St. Louis Today said Snyder “is the 10th St. Louis County officer to be killed in the line of duty since the department’s inception in 1955.”
3. Snyder Was a Former Graphic Designer Who Studied Religion
According to his LinkedIn page, Snyder was a graphic designer before becoming a police officer.
Recommendations on his page said, “Blake is a highly talented and creative graphic artist. He continually goes above and beyond for us. Highly recommended!!!” and “Blake is an individual who gets the job done right the first time. He is also a responsible person and is committed to the task at hand.”
He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Ranken Tech, where he listed his activities as “President AIAS, Phi Theta Kappa” and was engaged in religious studies and pre-law at Washington University in St. Louis. He also attended Lewis and Clark Community College, where he played soccer, said LinkedIn.
Officer Snyder was shot “almost immediately” upon exiting his car, said St. Louis Today.
4. The Slain Officer Was Remembered as a ‘Man of Faith’
The former St. Louis County police chief remembered Snyder as a family man of faith with a kind heart, echoing themes from others who knew him.
Fox 2 St. Louis said that Snyder was a board member at Riverbend Family Ministries where he “helped to provide a safe place to go for the children of families in crisis.”
Snyder wrote on LinkedIn that he was involved in Destiny Church and Riverbend Family Ministries.
According to KSDK-TV, the suspect is 18-years-old.
In contrast to Snyder’s life story, the suspect, Forster, is involved in a felony narcotics case, according to CBS St. Louis. Forster now faces a charge of first-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bail, the police said on Twitter.
According to Wave 3, tweets on Forster’s page allegedly expressed disgust for the police and one said, “I want f*** the police carved on my grave.”
“Other posts point out getting drunk and smoking weed,” said the news site. “Another references a ‘.40 cal weapon, sending all of my enemies to hell.’ And one says ‘I’m gonna kill them all, just watch.’”
You can watch the police news conference here:
The television station said the suspect shot Snyder “pointblank” with a pistol. The suspect was shot by another officer and was initially in critical condition but is now expected to survive.
5. Snyder Was the 97th United States Law Enforcement Officer to Die in the Line of Duty in 2016
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, as of October 6, 97 law enforcement officers had died in the United States in the line of duty.
Forty-two of those cases involved non-accidental gunfire. The site recorded 130 deaths in 2015.
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant was shot and killed. Steve Owen had recently received his department’s Medal of Valor.