Family, officials from across country gather for CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s funeral

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Pallbearers place Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s casket into the hearse after the funeral at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church on Feb. 17. Cmdr. Bauer was shot to death Feb. 13 outside the Thompson Center, where he had confronted a man who was fleeing other officers. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

When 13-year-old Grace Bauer stepped up to the pulpit at Nativity of Our Lord Church Saturday, the room was still.

As the first to read at her father’s funeral, Grace recited from the Book of Isaiah — just four days removed from the tragedy, and standing before some of the city and state’s most powerful leaders who gathered Saturday to lay 31-year Chicago Police veteran Cmdr. Paul Bauer to rest.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

“Be not afraid for I have redeemed you,” she said, clearly and confidently quoting the scripture.

“You are precious in my eyes, you are glorious and I love you.”

Grace and her mother Erin were joined joined Saturday morning by hundreds of elected officials and law enforcement officers from across the country, all still reeling from the loss of the commander who was gunned down Tuesday afternoon outside the Thompson Center in the Loop while trying to stop a suspect for questioning.

Blue hearts with the names of well-wishers lined the gate leading up to Nativity of Our Lord Church in Bridgeport, where Bauer was a regular with his family on Sundays. The church, which can fit 1,200, was packed with officers and family members, though there was no difference between the two for Saturday’s service.

“The entire city of Chicago has a troubled heart today,” said the Rev. Dan Brandt, who serves as the Chicago Police chaplain.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s wife, Erin, and daughter, Grace, watch as pallbearers place his casket into the hearse after the funeral. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s wife, Erin, and daughter, Grace, watch as pallbearers place his casket into the hearse after the funeral. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was joined at the funeral by the entire 18th District force that Bauer commanded — nearly 300 officers — along with police from more than 400 departments across America.

Johnson thanked Bauer’s family for their “strength and courage.” Though there will be justice, he said, “at the end of the day no amount of justice will make us whole again.”

Shomari Legghette, the four-time convicted felon charged with Bauer’s murder, is being held without bond.

Former interim CPD Supt. John Escalante said his childhood friend would have been “annoyed” at the ceremony because he never wanted to be the center of attention.

“Over the last 45 years there was a part of us that refused to grow up,” Escalante said. “We’re the same kids from Gage Park and that helped me with 30 years in the department.”

Recalling their favorite memories of working with Bauer, many of his fellow officers called him a mentor who led from the front and never asked others to do things he wouldn’t do.

Captain Mel Roman, Bauer’s executive officer in the 18th District, called him “the poster child for police command,” a man with a penchant for playing lighthearted tricks on his colleagues — and who could come down hard when the situation called for it.

Roman recounted standing by Bauer’s hospital bed Tuesday following the shooting.

“As I stood there in such a tragic situation, I found myself thinking about how this man lived, and it gave me so much comfort,” Roman said. “He lived like a man of faith.”

RELATED STORIES: • Slain Chicago cop remembered as ‘family man first,’ pillar of daughter’s school • Cmdr. Bauer’s widow: ‘I now belong to a club I never wanted to join’ • Chicago Police Memorial Foundation donates $60K to family of slain CPD commander

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner, former Mayor Richard M. Daley and scores of other officials were in attendance as well.

“Today our souls are suffering with sorrow. Our hearts are broken … Our entire city mourns, because Cmdr. Paul Bauer embodied the best of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “No title [that Bauer attained] ever outranked husband and father.”

The city will name its new police training academy after the 31-year veteran. Emanuel announced the honor late Friday, as thousands of people lined up for blocks into the night, standing out in the cold for hours to pay respects to the commander at his wake.

A funeral procession that stretched for more than 15 miles along the Dan Ryan Expressway led Bauer’s casket from the Bridgeport church to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip for interment Saturday afternoon.

Bauer is among 13 Chicago Police officers shot to death since 1998, and the 581st slain officer in the department’s history.

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