A Mason County family is furious after the man once charged with killing a family member was honored by the House Judiciary Committee last week.
The case goes back nearly four years, but this latest turn in Washington D.C. is bringing up old wounds for the family here in Northern Michigan.
Corey Beekman was charged with killing Billy Buchanan back in April of 2019, but the charges were dropped after a key witness refused to testify. Beekman has since moved to Florida and was invited to D.C. by Representative Matt Gaetz where Bleekman lead the House Judiciary Committee in the Pledge of Allegiance. Bleekman was being recognized for his time serving in the Army National Guard.
Billy Buchanan’s mom, Denita, says she was shocked when she found out the man charged with killing her son was being honored while they still search for justice.
“[It] was like a knife to the heart for our family,” Denita admits. “It was devastating to know that somebody with this hanging over their head was being praised as a veteran, a hero.”
Even Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole expressed his disappointment in Representative Gaetz’ decision. He wrote in a statement that there are far more other service men and women that deserved the honor and hopes future considerations will ‘at the very least warrant a google search.’
Denita says Gaetz’s office has been in contact with her. She says they’ve apologized and fired the people that are in charge of background checks. She says Gaetz’s office told her that Beekman and his father reached out to them for the recognition.
“She did say they were terribly sorry for the mistake that was made. I told her that it was more than a mistake, it was a total error on their part to not do a background check on somebody,” Denita states.
She says Gaetz’s office is trying to make it right by issuing an apology and sending a flag to honor Billy.
“She told me that Mr. Biden had approved this flag and other Senators and Congressmen had approved this flag to be sent to us with a letter of apology from the Capitol building. So, the flag is in the mail and our son is going to be honored as a hero,” Denita says.
Gaetz’s office told Denita Gaetz would be apologizing on his podcast Tuesday. However, Denita was hoping his apology would be a little more public than that.
Gaetz’s office did not respond to our request for comment.