Thousands Line the Streets to Mourn Slain Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

(ABC) Thousands of mourners gathered Saturday morning for the funeral of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was gunned down this week at the Thompson Center.

The funeral started at 10 a.m. at the Nativity of Our Lord Church, which had its pews filled along with two overflow rooms. More than 400 police agencies were represented, including the Minneapolis and Milwaukee police departments, as well as departments throughout the Chicago area.

“He understood that there’s no greater compliment than a compliment that you get from your officers,” said CPD Captain Mel Roman.

Bauer’s 13-year-old daughter, Grace, did the first reading, and Captain Mel Roman and Chief John Escalante, who was Bauer’s friend since first grade, gave remarks.

“You could see we’re still those same kids from Gage Park,” Escalante said. “And our sense of humor always goes back to being those same kids from Gage Park, and for me with Paul, I’ll tell you that’s what helped me get through 30 years of the Chicago Police Department.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Supt. Eddie Johnson and Gov. Bruce Rauner also spoke.

“Paul, I’m going to miss you,” Johnson said. “And while there are no words I can say to describe the depth of my gratitude, I just want to say thank you.”

“Chicago is blessed to have known and been served by Paul Bauer. Chicago will never forget his grace and his goodness,” Emanuel said.

Archbishop Blase Cupich sent a letter to Bauer’s family, which was read by Rev. Joe Altman, in which he called Bauer a hero and told them that they are not alone, as Chicago mourns with them. The letter said that Cupich wanted to attend, but was recovering from the flu, but said he would visit them soon.

The public was encouraged to participate by lining up along the procession route and wearing blue, and thousands came out with flags and signs. 1,000 vehicles led the way for Bauer’s hearse.

“He seems like someone who wasn’t looking for a lot of glory,” said Bridgeport resident Alanna O’Connor, who attended the procession. “He was just serving. It makes me immensely proud of this neighborhood and this family and this city.”

The procession traveled proceed west on 37th Street, south on Halsted Street, east on Pershing Road, to 90/94 East to I-57 South to 111th Street.

“The entire community is out here to support everyone,” said Bridgeport resident Tim Heise. “One of the greatest things I saw yesterday.There was a rainbow of every color police cars in Illinois, lined down the street, which was pretty spectacular.”

Among those officers was Kankakee Sheriff Mike Downey. Downey said he had never met Bauer but would not have missed his memorial.

“It is a brotherhood,” Downey said. “And you’ll see people here from out of state. And it’s a credit for them, a credit for the profession. We have each other’s back.”

The miles-long procession traveled from Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in south suburban Alsip, arriving just before 3 p.m.

“Just the greatest friend you could ever have,” CPD Sergeant Michael Corlett said of Bauer. “I do have a son and daughter, and I would want my son to be the man Paul Bauer is, and I would want my daughter to marry a man like Paul Bauer.”

On Friday, a visitation was held. Mounted patrol stood in formation as his body was moved from Dalcamo Funeral Home to Nativity of Our Lord Church in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

The casket for the commander, who led the 18th Police District on the Near North Side, was met by a large contingent of Chicago police, including the command staff and members from his unit of assignment. Those members received the casket, following tradition.

The wait to enter the church approached three hours, and the line wrapped around one block, then another, and then another.

Bauer’s wife Erin and daughter Grace climbed the church steps and greeted every member of the public inside. They attended Nativity of Our Lord Church, and Bauer was a fixture in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

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