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Meador murdered at work: 30-year-old lawyer was just elected to YLD board.

Pensacola attorney Bill Meador, who had just been elected unopposed to a seat on the Bar's Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, was shot and killed by his father-in-law January 24. The father-in-law rammed a police car as he left the scene, and then shot and killed himself.

Meador, 30, was an associate in the law firm of Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon, which includes Bar President-elect Alan Bookman and former Bar President Patrick Emmanuel. The shooting took place in the firm's downtown Pensacola office.

Meador's wife, Ann, also is an attorney and serves on the Bar's Advertising Task Force 2004. She is expecting the couple's first child late next month.

"Bill was a phenomenally talented young attorney who was as nice a person as you would ever meet," Bookman said.

He was active in the local Junior Achievement Program. Marilyn Kelley, education manager for Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida, Inc., said of Meador, "Bill is often referred to as 'the consummate gentleman,' which describes him perfectly. But more than that, Bill was just a wonderful human being. He had respect for every person he met. And every person he met could sense this. I am sure that it is this quality that endeared Bill to the kids. They respected him because he showed them respect."

At the January 28 Bar Board of Governors meeting, YLD President Mike Faehner reported Meador's shooting, which he noted came only a few hours before board member Henry Latimer was killed in a traffic accident. "He was a great young lawyer; he had a lot of promise," Faehner said. "The word is in five years he might have been standing where I am now [as YLD president]."

"Bill was a friend to everyone and a good friend of mine," "said" Charles Young, another lawyer at the firm. "He loved several things in this world. First and foremost was his family, especially his wife Ann and his yet unborn daughter Abigail. He was an avid golfer and ... he loved Auburn University. He loved the kids he taught through Junior Achievement: He also loved this firm. Becoming a director at Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon was as important to Bill as any aspiration he talked about to me."

Meador, he added was "truly special ... to each and every person he encountered. His demeanor was always cordial; he never spoke harshly even of those who probably deserved it, always had a smile, was there each and every time someone needed help." He also enjoyed practicing law, particularly in personal injury "not for financial reasons, but because it was a way he could help those who needed help he could now provide," Young said.

Another lawyer in the firm, Shane Rowe, said the Meadors were living with him while they were having a new house built, having sold their previous home last September. He called it a special time.

"They were a happy couple," Rowe said. "I don't think a night passed during the time they lived with me that they weren't both laughing together about something in the living room. They always cooked or ordered in together as a couple. Bill did everything during this time to comfort his wife because of her pregnancy."

According to a report in the Pensacola News Journal, police say there is no apparent motive for the shooting.

The News Journal reports the incident began about 1:30 p.m. when Meador's father-in-law, Leslie Brooke Johnson, 56, came to the office looking for Meador.

Young said he was with Meador when they returned to his office and found Johnson waiting, and that Meador had no concerns about Johnson being there or no obvious fear about meeting with him. He said Meador closed the door as though for a private meeting and about five seconds later the first shot was fired. As employees were being moved away, two more shots were heard, Young said, and then about a minute later Johnson emerged and left the building.

Witnesses told the News Journal that when Johnson exited the office, he ignored police orders to stop and got into his SUV. Pensacola police officers then fired at the fleeing vehicle before it rammed a patrol car arriving at the scene and pinning an officer in the vehicle. Johnson then killed himself. The police officer had to be extricated from the smashed police car and has since been released from the hospital.

Johnson's wife had recently filed for divorce from her husband of 35 years, citing an "irretrievably broken marriage," according to the News Journal. Neither Meador nor his wife was involved in the divorce action. Johnson also had reportedly suffered a head injury 18 years ago and had a long history of issues related to that.

Young noted that most of the firm's employees were at work when the shooting occurred and are working together to deal with the incident.

"One of the reasons Bill loved this firm is the same reason there are so many long-term attorneys and employees. Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon has been around for so long because it is more family than business," he said. "As a family we are dealing with the tragedy together, maybe each grieving in our own way, but supportive of each other and respectful of the process."

Contributions may be made to the Royal Alliance Bill Meador/Abigail Meador Scholarship Memorial Fund, 5941 Otter Point Road, Pensacola 32504.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Feb 15, 2005
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