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Woman who lost her dad, a CPD officer, reaches out to Cmdr. Bauer’s daughter

Katarina Perez, who was comforted by the children of other slain Chicago police officers when her dad, Benjamin Perez, was killed in the line of duty, wants to do the same for Grace Bauer, the 13-year-old daughter of Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was fatally shot earlier this month outside the Thompson Center. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Katarina Perez got Grace Bauer’s cellphone number on Sunday.

She’s going to give her a call.

Both of their dads were Chicago cops who were killed in the line of duty.

Perez was 9 when her father, Benjamin Perez, was fatally struck by a train while conducting narcotics surveillance along a set of West Side Metra tracks in September of 2002.

Grace, 13, is the daughter of CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was shot and killed on Feb. 13 outside the Thompson Center while chasing an armed suspect with a lengthy criminal history.

Perez wants to be the conduit to a unique set of shoulders for Grace to lean on.

“There’s a couple other young ladies who have unfortunately had the same experience losing their father, and I think the joint effort of all of us getting together to be there for Grace is going to make a huge difference,” Perez said.

On Sunday, Perez attended a Mass honoring Cmdr. Bauer that was held at the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge on West Washington Blvd. After the service, the two chatted briefly.

Membership numbers aren’t certain. It’s an informal group: the sons and daughters of Chicago police officers who died while on the job, Perez said.

“There’s a lot of us, unfortunately,” Perez said. “I can’t put it into numbers because we’re all different ages and everything happened at a different time — some of us were very young, some of us were older, teenagers, at college. There’s a lot of us though.”

For Perez, it was the daughters of Donald Marquez — who was fatally shot in March of 2002 while executing a warrant — who took her under their wing.

“They were older than me at that time but they had reached out to me, and that made such a big difference because I knew that they had gone through something similar, and just having that bond and that relationship just helped me so much and so I want to do that for Grace,” she said.

Grace, and her mother, Erin, declined to speak to reporters Sunday after the memorial Mass.

Five days earlier, however, Erin published a letter expressing her family’s appreciation for all the warmth they had received in the wake of her husband’s death.

The last line of the letter read: “One man almost stole my faith in humanity, but the City of Chicago and the rest of the nation restored it and I want to thank you for that.”