At the second Chicago police officer funeral in as many days, family and friends mourned officer Eduardo Marmolejo as a gregarious, driven hero on Saturday.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Cardinal Blase Cupich mourned alongside Marmolejo’s wife, his three daughters and hundreds of police officers in the chapel at St. Rita of Cascia High School.
At the service, people told stories of Marmolejo’s corny jokes, and his penchant for sending daily videos of his dog pooping. They also spoke admiringly of a man constantly setting and achieving higher personal goals - like becoming a police officer, or running marathons.
Marmolejo was mourned as a man dedicated to helping others - first as a worker in an emergency room, then as a police officer.
“Knowing that I’ll never get to hug or even see you again breaks my heart. … But I will try my hardest to be strong for Maddie, Sophie and Mommy. I promise to take care and hold everyone together,” Marmolejo’s daughter Rebecca, 15, said in her eulogy Saturday. “You’re my role model and the person I aspire to be, and now that you’ve clocked out it’s my turn to cover the shift.”
Marmolejo and his partner, Officer Conrad Gary, were struck and killed by a commuter train Monday after responding to an alert about shots fired in the area.
A police spokesman said members of Gary’s family stood alongside the route to the cemetery Saturday following Marmolejo’s funeral to pay their respects.
On Friday, Gary was remembered as a man who lived “a life distinguished by service and sacrifice.”
“Everything Conrad Gary did, he did for others,” Emanuel said at Gary’s funeral, also at St. Rita High School. “There is a word for someone who at every opportunity risks their safety to protect the safety of others. That word is hero.”
‘Unforeseeable and unfortunate’
The day before Gary’s funeral, a Cook County judge ordered a $200,000 bond for the Chicago man who authorities say fired the shots that led Marmolejo and Gary to the site where they were fatally struck by the train.
Prosecutors told the judge Thursday that Edward Brown, 24, went up to the train tracks near 103rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue on Monday evening, and fired two shots: one into the air, the other at an empty school. They said Brown had found the gun earlier that day on his way home from work.
Brown’s two shots triggered an alert from the Chicago Police Department’s Shotspotter technology. Marmolejo and Gary responded to the call and were fatally struck by a commuter train while they were searching for Brown on the tracks.
Brown’s attorney, Frank Kostouros, called it a “completely unforeseeable and unfortunate series of events” that resulted in the deaths of two “hero” officers.
‘The full measure of who their fathers were’
Four Chicago officers have been in killed in the line of duty this year, the most since 2010.
All of the officers killed left behind children.
“So to all Chicagoans…let us ensure that their memories of their fathers are more than memories,” Emanuel said Saturday. “That these children, Chicago’s children, know the full measure of who their fathers were.”
St. Rita High School CEO Fr. Paul Galetto said the funerals for Gary and Marmolejo are the fourth and fifth funerals for first responders held this year at the school’s chapel.
Galetto said it’s clear the deaths have taken a toll on St. Rita’s community and the surrounding neighborhoods, which are home to many police officers and firefighters.
“They realize, there but for the grace of God go I,” Galetto said of those first responders. “They care for each other. And I’m awed by what I see at times, especially in the moments of grief and sorrow.”
After her father’s funeral on Saturday, Rebecca Marmolejo said she was grateful to the people of Chicago.
“I just want to say thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do this without everyone,” she said.
Patrick Smith reports on criminal justice for WBEZ. Follow him @pksmid.