Remembering Officer Mark Stall: 20 years later

Posted at 9:31 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 23:31:22-04

For those close to Mark Stall, it's hard to believe it has been 20 years since he gave his life protecting the community he loved.

"I think it's something that you learn to live with, you learn to accept, and you learn to make the adjustments in your life to continue on," said Mark's Widow, Cheryl Stall-Chamberlain.

"Things happen and you know Mark, he lost his life, but he also lost it doing what he really enjoyed doing. Protecting people and serving people," said Cpl. Stephen  Van Doren with the Boise Police Department.

The beginning of the end of Mark's life began in the early morning hours of September 20th, 1997. Officer Stephen Van Doren and Officer Brian Hagler saw a car whose plates seemed 'off', and after a series of traffic violations, they made the decision to pull the car over.

"Soon as we are behind them. They stopped really quick and then they got out of the car at the same time," explained Officer Van Doren.

Officer Hagler got out and told them to stay in the car, but they refused. 

"Then I finally get out of the car and I tell them to stop. They both freeze. They look at me, look back at Brian and then they back up to the car. Now their demeanor in how they did that was very odd because most people when they return to the car, they go back to the car," said Officer Van Doren. (these guys) "They back up."

Sensing something wasn't right, the officers called for backup and soon enough Officer Mark Stall and Ron Winegar, as well as several other officers, quickly arrived on scene.

"Rather than approach the vehicle we decided to have the occupants get out of the vehicle one at a time and come back to us," said Officer Ron Winegar.

The driver then got out of the vehicle smoking what appeared to be a cigarette and started moving towards the officers.

"He looks at every position, takes a puff, and were telling him to pick up his jacket and turn around slowly and he goes 'I don't think so'," said Officer Van Doren. 

At that point, officers were on high alert. They again tell him to turn around slowly, but this time, when he said I don't think so his brother gets out of the passenger door, both grab guns and begin unloading on the surrounding officers. 

"It sounds like machine gun fire for about 54 seconds," said Officer Van Doren.

During the gun battle, both Officer Winegar and Officer Stall were hit.

"It was a pretty horrendous night. A lot of chaos and confusion as you can imagine," said Officer Winegar.

Both were transported to the hospital and both ended up in the same room. 

"I laid there and watched as what seemed like a huge team of doctors and nurses and medical staff worked on Mark. They opened his chest and performed some heroic attempts to save his life," said Officer Winegar.

Shortly after, Mark's wife Cheryl received a knock on the door she will never forget.

 "I don't really remember them telling me anything specifically that had happened, just that we needed to get to the hospital," said Stall-Chamberlain.

A bullet had hit Mark under his arm just about the protection of his bulletproof vest. It proved to be too much. Mark was pronounced dead.

Coping with the loss of her husband, Cheryl had to find the strength to tell their two children the horrific news. 

"They were still at home and in bed and asleep," explained Cheryl. "That was the thing that was the most difficult, for me to figure out was how to tell them that they would never see their dad again. How does a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old understand that?"

Although 20 years have passed, Cheryl said it's still difficult dealing with the loss of such a great man.

"Sometimes it's more difficult than others. It's not anything I can predict but there is just hard days," said Cheryl

While Cheryl said that God chose Mark that night, he also gave their family the strength to cope with the loss. The Boise Police Department said they also still feel that loss today.

"It's one of the most significant events in the history of the Boise Police Department as far as having a permanent effect on the culture, the mindset, and the identity of who we are," said Boise Police Chief William Bones.

Bones said Mark's legacy proves that though he is gone, he will never be forgotten. 

"Mark will remain part of our brotherhood and who we are a Boise Police Officer for as long as we exist," said Chief Bones. 

Wednesday night, the Boise Police Department will host a remembrance ceremony to Honor Mark Stall. 

It will be held at Idaho and 15th street in Downtown Boise at 7 p.m. Speakers will include Boise Police Chief William Bones, Mayor Dave Bieter, and Captain Ron Winegar.