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CPD officer Conrad Gary’s funeral: ‘He embodied honor, loyalty and integrity’

Police officers attend the funeral for Chicago police Officer Conrad Gary, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Chicago.

Police officers attend the funeral for Chicago police Officer Conrad Gary, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Chicago. Gary was one of two Chicago officers who were struck and killed by a commuter train as they were investigating a report of gunfire in the area. | Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune via AP pool photo

Hundreds of Chicago Police officers lined up on the lawns of St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel Friday morning to pay their respects to fallen Officer Conrad Gary.

Gary, 31, was one of two officers struck by a South Shore Line train Monday night as he was pursuing a shooting suspect on the city’s Far South Side.

He was reliable, loved to help, never hesitated to do so and “embodied honor, loyalty and integrity,” CPD chaplain the Rev. Dan Brandt said during the funeral Mass, which was led by Cardinal Blase Cupich.

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“He was, as one person said last night, a plain old, genuinely nice person,” Brandt said. “When backup was needed, or transport was needed, when a fellow officer needed help, he was there.”

Gary, who grew up in Oak Lawn, spent five years working as an Air Force police officer and spent an additional year in the Air Force Reserve. He joined the Chicago Police Department just 18 months ago.

The South Sider had only had one character flaw, Brandt joked: he was a diehard Cubs fan.

Programs for the service were filled with photos of Gary with friends and family — both his brothers in blue, and his wife Kelly and their baby daughter Tess.

Chicago Police Officer Conrad Gary’s father, Mike, said about his son Tuesday, “He was a great father. Adored his child. He was a great husband. And he was a good police officer.” | GoFundMe

“Kelly, I speak for the whole city of Chicago when I say that we wish nothing more than that Conrad had more time on Earth with you and Tess,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Everything Conrad Gary did, he did for others.”

Speaking after the service, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said the department and the city owed it to Gary’s 6-month-old daughter to keep his memory alive.

“Officer Gary leaves behind an infant daughter who will never have a conscious memory of her dad — she’ll just have pictures and stories,” Johnson said. “It’s just important for us … to ensure that we never forget Officer Gary. He died a hero, he died doing exactly what we asked him to do and that’s protect the citizens of the city.”

Fellow officers recalled “a good guy” whose time in the line of duty was cut tragically short.

Officer Mark Mayer, who worked with Gary in the Calumet District, called him “an A++ guy” at the funeral mass Friday.

“His parents should be proud of the person he became,” Mayer said. “It was an honor to work with him.”

Jeffrey Curia, one of Gary’s field training officers, said he showed signs of promise early in his police career.

“I believed in him and I believed he would be an important part of the police department,” Curia said.

Mary Conroy, a family friend, called Gary’s death “tragic.”

“I’m here to support my friend and show them I’m here for them and I’m sorry for their loss,” Conroy said.

Hours after the funeral, hundreds of Chicagoans continued mourning with visitation for Officer Eduardo Marmolejo, Gary’s partner at the time of the the incident.

Two people embrace while waiting to get inside Blake Lamb Funeral Home for the wake for Officer Eduardo Marmolejo who was one of two cops to be struck and killed by a commuter train Monday afternoon while investigate a shots fired call, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Oak Lawn, Ill. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Two people embrace while waiting to get inside Blake Lamb Funeral Home for the wake for Officer Eduardo Marmolejo who was one of two cops to be struck and killed by a commuter train Monday afternoon while investigate a shots fired call, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Oak Lawn, Ill. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The officers were searching for a suspected gunman on the Metra tracks Monday evening near 103rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue when they were hit from behind and killed instantly by a southbound South Shore Line train.

During Friday’s funeral Emanuel, Johnson and Gov. Bruce Rauner all noted the hard year that has befallen the police department, with four on-duty deaths. Barely a month ago, Officer Samuel Jimenez was killed in a gunfight during an active shooter situation at Mercy Hospital, and in February, Cmdr. Paul Bauer was killed while trying to arrest a gunman outside the Thompson Center downtown.

Eduardo Marmolejo (left) and Conrad Gary

Chicago Police Officer Eduardo Marmolejo, left, and Conrad Gary were hit by a train and killed Monday night.| Chicago Police photos

Gary and Marmolejo were both with the Calumet District, which has had an especially rough year. Two Calumet officers died by suicide in the parking lot of the station earlier this year, and another had a heart attack while working in the station.

Marmolejo’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, again at the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, adjacent to St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave.

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