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‘Great Dad, Not Victim:’ Westminster Man Killed In Navy Yard Shooting

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Richard Michael Ridgell
Monique Griego 370x278 Monique Griego
Monique Griego joined the WJZ News Team in July 2011 as a General...
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WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ)—A Carroll County man is among the 12 people killed by a lone gunman at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning.

Monique Griego spoke to his grieving family.

Richard “Mike” Ridgell, 52, was working as a security guard at the Navy Yard. Before that he spent nearly 18 years as a trooper for the Maryland State Police. His family says he had a passion for protecting people, and they believe that’s exactly what he was doing Monday.

Once news of a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard broke, the long agonizing wait began for Ridgell’s family in Westminster.

“I think the worst part last night was hearing them say there’s still five families that haven’t been notified, and their loved one isn’t home yet,” said Tracey Ridgell, wife.

The family says it wasn’t until after midnight they learned the Navy Yard security guard had been killed in the rampage. His wife and three daughters are now trying to understand the mind of the gunman, 34-year-old former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis.

“What was going through the guy’s mind? I think to myself ‘What were you hoping to accomplish aiming at people that you didn’t know that hadn’t wronged you in any way?’ We can’t ask ourselves that. We’ll never have any peace,” said Heather Hunt, daughter.

The family hasn’t heard many details about how Mike Ridgell was killed. But knowing his character, they believe he would have sacrificed himself for others.

“He was probably one of the people that helped out. I don’t think he would’ve just sat there and done nothing,” his daughter Megan Ridgell said while fighting back tears.

Mike Ridgell had worked at the Navy Yard for less than a year. His daughters say he was extremely patriotic.  He was a Maryland State Police trooper from January 1983 to August 2000. After retiring with the rank of corporal, he served three years as a contract security worker in Iraq.

“We expect bad things to happen overseas sometimes. I don’t know that he expected it quite as much here,” Heather Ridgell said. “But he went to work every day knowing that there was a risk.”

Mike Ridgell was known to love his work, his country and the Baltimore Ravens. Above all, he was a proud father.

“I don’t want people to remember him as a victim ’cause he never was in his life, and he never will be. He was strong. I want him to be known as a dad above a victim of a shooting ’cause he was a great dad for all of us,” Megan Ridgell said.

While Mike Ridgell lived in Westminster, his family says he was born and raised in Brooklyn Park. A memorial fund has been set up to benefit his children.

Ridgell Children Memorial Fund
C/O PNC Bank
2325 Hanover Pike
Hampstead, Md. 21074

The other shooting fatalities: Michael Arnold, 59; Martin Bodrog, 54;  Arthur Daniels, 51; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62;  John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Mary Francis Knight, 51; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46;  Vishnu Pandit, 61, and Gerald L. Read, 58.

Alexis was killed in a gun battle with police.

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