Tim Yaros cleaned the flat headstone that marks the grave of his father, a police officer who was shot to death more than 35 years ago.
On Monday, the man who pulled the trigger was released from a Central Indiana prison.
On the same day, Yaros’ family gathered with members of the Gary Police Department at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Indiana, to remember the fallen officer.
Gary police Lt. George Yaros was fatally shot after he responded to an August 1981 bank robbery in the city’s Glen Park neighborhood.
“He loved working with the public. He loved his job,” Tim Yaros said. “I don’t think he was ever going to retire. He just loved being a police officer.”
The killer, Zolo Agona Azania, had been convicted of murder and was twice sentenced to death. But the Indiana Supreme Court overturned both death sentences and Azania later accepted a 74-year sentence.
Azania, now 61, was given credit for good behavior and walked out of the Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, Indiana, after serving 35 years.
Azania’s release doesn’t sit well with Tim Yaros.
“I think we need to change a lot of laws in this country,” he said. “They are changing the laws for how police officers have got to do things, so why can’t they do the same for when a police officer is killed? In my opinion, a police officer is killed in the line of duty, there’s no question that person should be executed.”
Yvonne Yaros said she hopes their Catholic faith can help her husband.
“I can’t have hate in my heart because I could not ever be able to move on,” she said. “And we’ve been able to move on with your lives over the years. We’ve have been very blessed.I am not the person (Azania) will have to answer to. There is a higher-being he will have to answer to. George knows we fought as hard as we could to keep him in prison.”
Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley said officers have to “continue to work hard to put individuals away who commit crimes.”
Michael Puente covers Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter at @MikePuenteNews.