Thousands pay respects at officer’s funeralLAKE CITY (AP) — Thousands of mourners packed a small town in southeastern Minnesota on Saturday to pay their final respects to Shawn Schneider, the Lake City police officer killed last month in the line of duty.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
LAKE CITY (AP) — Thousands of mourners packed a small town in southeastern Minnesota on Saturday to pay their final respects to Shawn Schneider, the Lake City police officer killed last month in the line of duty.
The 32-year-old had responded to a domestic dispute, where authorities say a Wisconsin man shot him in the head before eventually turning the gun on himself.
The shooting was a “senseless act,” the Rev. Darren Paulson told family, friends and law enforcement officers at First Lutheran Church in Lake City. The service was held just blocks from the house where Schneider was fatally wounded, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“A split moment of agony and pain, a trigger is pulled, an officer goes down, and lives are changed forever,” Paulson said. “It is senseless, random and tragic.”
The last time Schneider was in church was on the eve of the Dec. 19 shooting, Paulson recalled. Schneider, who was remembered as a devoted family man, was watching his children perform in a Christmas program.
“Today is for you, Shawn, for this story and this gut-wrenching tribute,” Paulson said.
Nearly 2,000 law enforcement officers attended the funeral. Most didn’t know Schneider but showed up anyway — from across the state, from Wisconsin, Chicago and as far away as Las Vegas — to honor a fallen comrade.
Tim Leonhardt of New Hope was among about 100 members of Minnesota’s Patriot Guard who lined the driveway to the church, holding U.S. flags.
“We’re just here to show Shawn and his family we appreciate everything he’s given,” Leonhardt said. “Unfortunately, he gave it all.”
Schneider, a nine-year veteran of the Lake City Police Department, died 11 days after he was shot on a domestic disturbance call. Police have said Alan J. Sylte Jr., 25, of Hager City, Wis., fired the shot as Schneider was helping Sylte’s 17-year-old ex-girlfriend escape from the house. After a standoff that lasted several hours, Sylte was found dead in the house of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said.
The teen told police she had broken up with Sylte the previous week after he became violent.
A Wisconsin National Guard spokeswoman said Sylte was a veteran of the war in Iraq who was in the process of being discharged for failing to report to duty.
Jeremy Johnson was one of three officers from Hudson, Wis., who drove an hour to attend the funeral. Johnson didn’t know Schneider personally, but said he felt a kinship as a fellow father of young children.
Schneider left behind a wife and three small children. Johnson, who has two kids and a third on the way, said it’s not easy attending the funeral of a fallen officer. But he felt compelled to show support.
“It’s scary. I go home and I bring these home to my wife,” Johnson said, holding up the funeral bulletin.
As the services were conducted inside the church, other law enforcement officers packed into a heated tent outside to watch the service on a video screen.
Minnesota State Patrol trooper Malachy McCarthy recalled Schneider’s infectious laugh and smile. He noted that Schneider’s computer screensavers always showed new photos of his children, and he said communities need officers like Schneider who go the extra mile.
After the funeral, hundreds of people lined the streets to view the four-mile procession as Schneider’s casket was carried on a horse-drawn carriage to the cemetery.
As difficult as it was to watch the proceedings, Johnson said he was glad he came and that so many others did, too.
“I’m always surprised to see how many officers come out,” he said. “It makes me proud to be a police officer. We’re like family.”