CHICAGO (CBS) — Tributes this week are honoring fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French – a woman loved ones call fearless, confident, courageous, and brave.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot visited a memorial held on Monday and saw how those who knew Officer French – and those who did not – honored her memory.

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“She is a gem of this city – one we will never forget,” said French’s friend, Officer Erica Hernandez.

Light and dark blue balloons were released into the sky as loved ones and colleagues paid tribute to Officer French. Tears fell, and hugs were shared.

“She lit up the room, so bright,” Hernandez said.

They gathered at the spot at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue where a gunman claimed French’s life during a traffic stop on Saturday night.

French worked out of the Ogden (10th) police district, here at Ogden and Kedzie avenues. Flags flew at half-staff at the police station next to purple and black bunting.

The 29-year-old was detailed to the Community Safety Team. Officer Hernandez worked with her.

“She just loved the job,” Hernandez said. “She loved to take care of people and just put on the uniform every day.”

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French also worked as a Cook County Sheriff’s corrections officer from February 2017 until April 2018, before joining the Chicago Police Department and starting at the academy that same year.

Now, her name will be etched onto a spot on the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 Memorial Wall. French will be remembered among the names of all Chicago Police officers killed in the line of duty.

“She’s our angel looking down on all of us,” Hernandez said.

Those who didn’t know French, also paid their respects.

Husband and wife Consuelo and Robert Chapa, placed a white candle and sunflower near the spot where Officer French was shot. Her death, hits close to home. Their daughter, is a Chicago police officer.

“I feel hurt, like my daughter,” said Consuelo Chapa. “It’s hard and they need our support.”

Robert Chapa said police officers are the heart of the city.

“They’re here to protect and serve, but sometimes that service doesn’t last too long,” he said.
“May she rest in peace.”

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Funeral arrangements are still being finalized for Officer French. Her partner was shot three times, and he remains hospitalized in critical condition at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Suzanne Le Mignot