CHICAGO (CBS) — Police officers in Indiana were burying another one of their own on Monday.
Gary Police Officer Gary Westerfield was set to be married next month. Instead, he was remembered at visitation services Sunday at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary.
His funeral took place Monday morning at the convention center and was followed by a procession to his burial service in Shererville.
Officers from a number of jurisdictions – including Portage, Hammond, Indianapolis, the Lake County Sheriff’s department, Indiana State Police, and several departments from Illinois – arrived in their dress uniforms to pay their respects.
“He’s a comrade. He’s a fallen soldier. He’s one of us,” said Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officer Rikki Johnson
Westerfield’s colleagues were comforted by the outpouring of support.
“It’s good to see so much so support and outpouring support from surrounding police departments to come out and support us and support law enforcement in general,” said Gary Police Sergeant Richard Allen.
Inside Westerfield’s daughter Allie spoke on behalf of her family.
“You never realize until someone is gone you have many things to say to them,” she said. “He won’t be able to hear them anymore. I love my Dad. I know we had issues every parent and kid has issues, but I knew that if I needed him he’d be there.”
Sheryl Evans, a friend of Westerfield’s fiancee, described the late officer as a “teddy bear.”
It sounds like an odd description for a 19-year police department veteran who was also an Army veteran who loved to ride motorcycles, and was a talented tattoo artist, but others who knew Westerfield agree.
Gary Deputy Police Chief Larry McKinley said Westerfield helped train him, and was quiet and timid; but those qualities allowed him to quickly diffuse tense situations on the job.
“He was very soft-spoken. He was like a huge teddy bear. I mean, he was able to actually go to any situation, and calm the situation down immediately, just by his presence and his voice,” McKinley said.
Scott Miles, president of Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors, said he and others are offering their condolences.
It’s been a busy time for his group – as three law enforcement personnel from Indiana have died in the last two weeks.
Westerfield was found shot dead in his squad car a week ago Sunday, after he responded to a 911 call. One person was in custody in connection with Westerfield’s murder, but has not yet been charged. That person was being held on an outstanding arrest warrant as police continue to gather evidence.
36 “We’re close and things will be developing in the next few days,” said the Lake County Sheriff John Bucinich.
The day before Westerfield was slain, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Perry Renn was shot and killed in a shootout, while responding to a call of shots fired. A 25-year-old man has been charged in his death.
On June 28, Tipton County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Calvin died in a car crash while on duty.