CHICAGO (CBS) — As people watched funeral services for fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French inside St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel on the Southwest Side Thursday, many from the community felt it necessary to show up in person and pay their respects outside the chapel.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves talked with some mourners young and old.READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Girl Dies After Being Shot In Head In Little Village; Man Critically Wounded
Two little girls – 9-year-old Sol and 6-year-old Amber – were dressed in their own Chicago Police officer shirts and hats. You cold call them junior cadets, as they took on an important assignment of their own on Thursday.
“They’re just good spirits,” said the girls’ older brother, a Chicago Police officer. “We thought it would be uplifting to bring our little sisters here. Put some smiles on some faces.”
And indeed spirits were lifted – something many at Officer French’s funeral needed. In addition to their brother, Amber and Sol’s father is also a Chicago Police officer.
“It’s, it’s really hard. I think everyone feels it,” the girls’ brother said, “and I don’t know. It was very difficult hearing that news.”
News of Officer French’s killing hit 13-year-old Andrew Vreeland hard.
“I’m just unhappy, because I don’t think they deserve to die in service,” he said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Winter Weather Advisory Issued For Illinois, 1-3 Inches Possible
Vreeland came from Elmhurst to pay homage to Officer French. He stood by in the head and rain – unfazed.
“I think it’s amazing to see everyone honoring these people – you know, all of these cops from different towns, all over the place,” he said.
And while the funeral was of course a sad occasion, people watching said they are walking away from this with a sense of strength and peace.
One of those people was Hazel Brown.
“I had to come to witness this!” Brown said. “I wanted to be a part of this.”
Brown had the day off, but decided to come to work at her candy shop along the procession route – opening her door for officers who needed a cool space.
“I really am sad today,” Brown said, “but I’m happy in a way too because this shows a lot of love and support for each other.”
The hope is to send that message to the youngest in attendance – the future leaders who now have a hero to look up to.MORE NEWS: 1 Dead, 3 Others Injured After Crash In Parking Lot In Waukegan
“Hopefully they can look up to Ella someday, and recognize that’s someone they can be proud of,” said Amber and Sol’s officer brother, “and she can be a mentor for them and someone they can look up to no matter where they go.”