Clara Freeman, the only dispatcher on duty during the 2011 Crawford County Courthouse shooting, has retired from the Van Buren Police Department.

“From answering the initial 911 calls to orchestrating the many public safety entities that arrived to help, Clara’s professionalism and experience undoubtedly saved a very tragic incident from being any worse,” said VBPD Police Chief Jamie Hammond.

The courthouse shooting in September 2011 injured one and left the gunman dead.

James Ray Palmer, 48, was armed with three semi-automatic handguns and a semi-automatic rifle when he entered the courthouse, firing about 70 rounds inside and outside the building, including a non-life-threatening wound to the leg of a judge’s secretary.

Sixteen shots were fired into the patrol car of Cpl. David Passan, who was not injured.

Freeman was hired June 26, 1994, and retired May 31. She was employee of the year in 1999 and 2012.

“Clara has touched many lives during her 24 years as a dispatcher,” Hammond said. “While dispatching calls for police and fire services for our citizens, there are no telling how many lives she has changed by simply talking to and listening to someone when they needed it.”

Hammond said the citizens of Van Buren, the officers of the Van Buren Police Department and the firefighters at the Van Buren Fire Department owe a debt of gratitude to Freeman.

“She will be missed and hard to replace,” he said.