CEDAR RAPIDS – Mount Vernon Police Chief Mark Winder said a phone call in 2010 “forever changed” how he thought about his job in the community and how it impacts his family and friends.
Winder gave a victim’s impact statement Wednesday in federal court before Lorenzo Harris-Thompson, 30, of Mount Vernon, was sentenced to 70 years in prison for attempting to hire a hit man to kill Winder.
Winder said he received a phone call from authorities, saying they had received information that a “hit” had been placed on him by Harris-Thompson.
“Hearing those words brought immediate concerns for my family and friends,” Winder said. “I became concerned for their safety, and for how I was going to be able to explain to them that my career choice hasn’t put them or me at any greater risk than any other chosen profession.”
Winder realized after the call that as a law enforcement officer he is at risk, but he didn’t anticipate being individually targeted and feeling that he was putting his family in danger.
“Lorenzo Harris-Thompson is the most potentially destructive and dangerous person that I have encountered in my almost 30 years in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff and a police officer,” Winder told the court. “The person that directs the mother of his children to meet with a hit man to “Silence the Critic” clearly indicated to me that the only person that he was concerned with was himself.”
According to evidence at trial, Harris-Thompson wanted to kill Winder so he wouldn’t be able to testify at his sentencing hearing, which could impact his prison time. Harris-Thompson pleaded guilty in 2011 to possession of firearms as an unlawful drug user after firearms were found in his home Sept. 8, 2010. While in the Iowa County Jail pending his sentencing he attempted to hire a person to kill Winder.
Harris-Thompson had his girlfriend make a payment to an undercover officer who was portraying himself to be a contract killer, according to testimony. Harris-Thompson made these arrangements to commit the crime from his jail cell and made phone calls from the jail, which were recorded.
Harris-Thompson was found guilty by a jury in June of attempted murder of a witness, murder for hire and attempted obstruction of justice.
Winder said the most difficult thing for him has been to wait for the trial and this sentencing. He is relieved it’s over and that Harris-Thompson will be confined in prison, away from Winder’s family, friends and the community for a long time.
“Nothing like this has happened before,” Winder said. “This has impacted the entire department and put everybody at risk. The community was concerned for me and that’s not their job to worry about me. That’s my job.”