POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. -- The slain Virginia state trooper shot in Richmond’s Mosby Court is being remembered not only for his passion for law enforcement but for his role as a coach and mentor to youth.
While VSP Special Agent Michael Walter worked in Richmond, he and his family lived in Powhatan County.
Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said Walter founded and ran the Powhatan Youth Wrestling and Community Development Corporation through the Black Hawk gym.
"For him and Jamie [his wife], this wasn’t about making a profit," Flaherty said. "It was about making a difference for disadvantaged youth by mentoring them and fostering their talents through physical fitness and sportsmanship.”
Officials with Blackhawk Wrestling were heartbroken to learn of their founder and president's death.
"Coach Mike founded our organization in 2008 and has passionately built our club to the organization we are today," Powhatan Youth Wrestling and Community Development Corporation Secretary Jerry Hoyt said in a statement. "His passion for wrestling and unique networking ability stretched throughout the Virginia wrestling community and beyond. Coach Mike ensured that our organization stayed focused on not only wrestling as a sport but our more important goal of developing our members into solid citizens. He demanded a high standard of character, integrity, and personally encouraged and modeled for the youth in the community and the Blackhawk wrestlers the importance of making the right choices in life. Coach Mike measured our successes not just by wins and losses in the wrestling room, but by how many children and young adults were helped regardless of their past or their socio-economic status. As an organization we will continue Coach Mike's legacy and outreach to the community."
Officials at Pocahontas Middle School in Powhatan County said Walter will be missed as a parent and mentor.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," school officials tweeted.
Jonathan Tanaka, who coached wrestling alongside Walter for years, said selfless best described the trooper, coach and father.
"Countless times where he would have a 20-hour shift, maybe hadn't slept in two days busy working with the police force, and would show up at Blackhawk at 6 a.m. on a Sunday to take kids to a tournament,” Tanaka said. “[Then] spend all day at a tournament and never once say a word."
While the Virginia State Police special agent served in the force for nearly 20 years, the Marine veteran helped found the youth wrestling program in Powhatan and spent much of his spare time coaching kids.
"It's been tough, but the one kind of silver lining of it is seeing the profound impact Mike's had on kids' lives,” Tanaka said.
Jake Tomlinson, who is the first wrestler from Powhatan County to win a state championship, said Coach Walter was there from the start of his career.
"I haven't seen him in a couple weeks, but like I said, he was the foundation,” Tomlinson said. “He's helped so many people through tough situations. He's been there for me."
The tightknit wrestling community in Powhatan is grieving, but also remembering their coach’s legacy.
"He'll never be somebody that will ever be forgotten,” Tanaka said. “He's had such a big, big influence on all of our kids throughout the years. I don't see anyway that that could ever die out.”
Tomlinson thinks he knows what Walter would want the community to do.
"If we can keep doing everything the way Mike would want do it, that headstrong, 'Here's a goal that we have, we're going to set it and we're going to accomplish it together,'" Tomlinson said. "I think that's what Mike would want.”
Walter is survived by his wife and three children.
Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals arrested a 27-year-old man at a home in Northumberland County in connection with the shooting Saturday morning.
Depend on WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for complete coverage of this important local story.