Tim Nelson doesn’t work in law enforcement. He doesn’t even live in Illinois.
He said he’s just a “man with a flag” who believes in showing support for the people who put their lives on the line.
So Sunday afternoon, Nelson stood outside the wake for Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez in Des Plaines, under a sky that spit snow and ice, holding an American flag. And he said he would stay for Jimenez’s funeral Monday morning.
Nelson said he made the roughly 65-mile drive from Oak Creek, Wis., “just to show my support for the Chicago Police Department and police everywhere. You know? Just to let them know that there’s people out there that still care about them.”
Sunday brought to an end a sad Thanksgiving weekend for families who lost loved ones in last week’s fatal shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, which also took the lives of emergency room doctor Tamara O’Neal and pharmacy intern Dayna Less.
Several Chicago police officers could be seen streaming in and out of Oehler Funeral Home in Des Plaines during Jimenez’s wake Sunday afternoon. The officer’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph’s Chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines.
Jimenez had been in his squad car, on a mundane assignment to deliver mail, when he saw that fellow cops were speeding toward Mercy Hospital on Nov. 19. He decided to go back them up.
Meanwhile, Juan Lopez had gone to the hospital to demand an engagement ring back from O’Neal, his ex-fiancée. Police say Lopez killed O’Neal, Less and Jimenez in the confrontation that followed. They also said Lopez died after police shot him in the abdomen and he shot himself in the head.
Yvonne Iman, a former classmate of Jimenez’s, made her way through the snow and ice to Jimenez’s wake Sunday. She said she was “really shocked” to learn about what happened. But she shared fond memories of his “huge smile” — and how he used to take care of his hair.
“One time he just walked into school, he had a big afro in his head,” Iman said. “And he was always happy about having that.”
Nelson, who learned about Jimenez’s death on the news, called it a “senseless act of violence.”
“It takes a special person to put this uniform on,” Nelson said. “Not many people do it.”
And 60 miles further southeast, another group of mourners filled a parking lot the size of a football field to honor Less in Schererville, Ind.
In northwest Indiana, one of Less’ relatives spoke to a reporter but asked not to be named. The relative said, “It’s horrible. Everyone is just in a daze right now.”
“As a parent, you can relate to what they’re going through,” said a man, his eyes red from crying, as he exited the visitation there.
“It’s just overwhelming,” said Yvonne Galich, a longtime family friend. “It’s indescribable what they’re feeling. The family is holding up as best they can. It’s just been surreal from the very beginning.”
Less was engaged to Adam Keric, her sweetheart from Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind.
Her father told the Sun-Times that the couple met when they were only 9 years old, at a church camp.
Less’ funeral is set for Monday in Lansing.