(CBS/WBBM Newsradio) — Thousands of friends, family and fellow officers began paying their respects Friday to Cmdr. Paul Bauer, the high-ranking police official who was slain in Chicago’s Loop earlier this week.

Fellow members of the Chicago Police Department carried Bauer’s casket into Our Nativity of the Lord Church in Bridgeport.

Most of those who paid their respects were police officers — many from other cities.

Susan Hagemann, the cousin of Commander Bauer’s wife Erin, says Erin and her daughter, Grace, are broken.

“Erin’s numb. They’re just going through the motions. They’re destroyed.”

Hagemann says her niece, 13-year-old Grace, knows she was the center of her father’s world and that he was a hero.

Carolyn Wortham, whose son, Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV, was shot and killed in front of the family home in 2010, was at the wake with her husband and daughter.

She didn’t know Cmdr. Bauer, but says, “I just feel a responsibility to be here for this family.”

The solemn journey from a funeral home to the church was watched by hundreds of young children from mark Sheridan Math and Science Academy. They skipped part of lunch and recess to pay their respects.

“I was proud of how they handled themselves,” school dean Dawn Creed said. “They know the importance of life, and this was a tragic event, and sadly it’s probably not the only one we’ll have to go through.”

Among the solemn sights during the procession: a rider-less horse walking alongside the police department’s mounted patrol unit. It was a tribute to Bauer, who worked with the mounted detail.

Every few feet along the route, blue ribbons of tribute for Bauer, who was commander of the 18th Police District-Near North.

“The man is loved. We’re showing our support,” resident Neva Shields said.

Among the visitors offering condolences Friday were Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Police Supt. Gary McCarthy.

Current Police Supt. Eddie Johnson thanked the city of Chicago for showing their support for his department following Tuesday’s tragedy.

“The healing process starts today for CPD, as well as the family, and this is going to be a difficult two days but we can get through it,” Johnson said.

Bauer, 53, is survived by a wife and daughter. The visitation was scheduled through 9 p.m. Friday. His private funeral is Saturday at the church.