County supports naming bridge for David Wilhelm
By Jessie Burchette
“For those who knew him, he quite simply hung the moon,” Candee Wilhelm said, wiping away tears.
She referred to her husband, David Wilhelm, a Rowan native and federal agent killed in a rampage in Atlanta in 2005.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Monday supporting her request that the Interstate 85 bridge over Innes Street be named the “David Gray Wilhelm Memorial Bridge” with the additional notation of “Federal Agent.”
“We will hang his name in the sky over Rowan County,” Candee Wilhelm said.
She went on to thank commissioners for their support. “It’s a great tribute to a great man,” she said.
Commissioners Chairman Arnold Chamberlain talked about David Wilhelm, who went to school with his children, and went on to describe Wilhelm’s climb through the ranks of federal law enforcement.
He had been promoted to an assistant supervisor position with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency months before his death.
Wilhelm was working at the site of his new home on March 11, 2005 when authorities say Brian Nichols, who was appearing in court on a rape charge, fled the Fulton County Courthouse after killing the judge, a court reporter, and a sheriff’s deputy.
Nichols confronted Wilhelm, who was off duty and working on the house. When Wilhelm attempted to take action, Nichols killed him and took his badge and gun, according to police reports. Nichols was captured several hours later. July selection is under way in his trial in Atlanta.
Chamberlain also pointed out that Wilhelm played a key role in a huge marijuana bust and seizure of $2.4 million in cash in Rowan County.
“He was protecting us,” Chamberlain said, referring to the fatal encounter with the fugitive.
Terry Osborne, a former West Rowan High School teacher, talked about Wilhelm as a student. He spoke of Wilhelm’s “seething intensity” and attitude to do whatever was required.
He recalled that as a teen, Wilhelm talked about wanting to be a Secret Service agent.
The resolution cites his outstanding law enforcement career, dedicated service and sacrifice to the county, to the state and citizens of Rowan County.
The Salisbury City Council is scheduled to consider a similar resolution at its meeting at 4 p.m. today.