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CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) – The body of Colorado movie massacre victim John Larimer was returned to his hometown Thursday with a procession and greeting not unlike those given local residents who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A building supply firm on Terra Cotta Avenue in Crystal Lake flew a giant American flag from a crane, suspended from the ground at half staff. Another business posted a sign saying its prayers and thoughts are with the Navy Petty Officer and his family.
Larimer, who was assigned to Buckley Air Force Base, in Aurora, Col., as a cryptologist, was shot to death by the gunman in the Aurora Century 16 multiplex as he tried to protect his girlfriend last week.
That led many in the group that gathered to greet him to call Larimer a hero, and the welcome he received was little different from those given those killed in combat.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
“It’s just incomprehensible to us that by simply going to a movie you run into such a disastrous situation,” said long-time Crystal Lake resident Martin Zwart. “It’s extremely sad.”
The procession, led by three police squad cars, included 45 motorcycles — from groups that included the Illinois Old Guard, Warriors’ Watch, and the Illinois Patriot Guard — as well as 28 other vehicles, including the limousine carrying family members. A contingent from Naval Training Center Great Lakes took part in the procession.
A brief ceremony took place in front of the funeral home, at 419 E. Terra Cotta Av., in Crystal Lake. The ceremony was abbreviated when rain began to fall.
Public visitation is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.
Members of the Larimer family have said through publicists at Navy Region Midwest that they do not wish to speak with the media or make any public statements. The funeral and interment will be private.