Beloved school resource officer laid to rest as students, community honor him at department

NEWNAN, Ga. — The city of Newnan Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their own, after he died following a battle with COVID-19.

Officer Ricky Tostenson died last Thursday after two weeks in the hospital battling the virus. He is the second officer in that department to die from the coronavirus.

Since then, the chief told Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach that the department and Tostenson’s patrol truck out front have been showered in love.

“It’s really been comforting with the community support with us,” Newnan Police Chief Brent Blankenship said.

Tostenson leaves behind a wife, two grown-up sons and a grandchild. He was with the Newnan Police Department for 10 years and was an 18-year veteran of law enforcement.

He was beloved by the kids at Evans Middle School, where he started as a school resource officer at the beginning of this school year.


“He made a huge impact with Evans Middle School and the staff and students there … and enjoyed it. Probably the happiest I’ve ever seen him.”

Calling him “Officer T,” students filled his truck with cards and messages.

Blankenship said he was loved by all, humble and honest, with a knack for working with kids, who put a smile on his face every day.

The loss comes just over four months after the death of fellow officer Frankie Gutierrez, who also died from COVID-19.

“Just the reality of dealing with the illness, and we try to do everything we can to stay as safe as we can for ourselves and in and amongst the community, hits home and it’s tough,” Blankenship said.

Tostenson will be laid to rest this Wednesday during a private funeral in Fairburn.

Gehlbach got a statement from the Coweta County Schools superintendent and the Evans Middle School principal. Both said Tostenson was absolutely loved by everyone there and will be greatly missed.