Hundreds of family, friends and fellow police officers from across the Chicago area filled the Holy Name Cathedral Saturday as they said their final goodbye to slain Cook County Sheriff’s Officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada.
Bagpipes and drums marked the arrival of the hearse, followed by a procession of police vehicles.
An ocean of officers saluted the hearse carrying Estrada’s casket while an emotional crowd watched, many wiping away tears and hugging each other for comfort.
“He was a beautiful man who touched a lot of people,” said Sheriff Tom Dart. “I had the privilege of working with him personally for three years and he was amazing.”
Estrada, a 50-year-old sheriff’s investigator and former U.S. Marine, was shot in the chest last week while trying to stop two people from robbing his daughter and her boyfriend outside a family Christmas party in Bellwood.
“He was a beautiful man who touched a lot of people,” Dart said. “This man could never stop. He lived to protect people and his final act was protecting his daughter.”
Dart called the services and ceremony “absolutely beautiful.”
“You don’t believe it, it’s surreal,” said family friend Donna Marquez. “This shouldn’t happen. This officer served every hour, minute by minute, to protect us.”
Police arrested and charged two 22-year-old men in connection to the shooting. Brandon Jackson and Gage Thorton were charged with first-degree murder and attempted robbery and were ordered held without bail.
Estrada was buried at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.
"With grateful hearts, your prayers, phone calls and love will always be very special to us," Estrada's family noted in the program.
Mourners Saturday remembered Estrada as a family man, protector and a hero.
“He served everybody from beginning of time to the end, where he tried to save his daughter,” Dart said. “Our society is so confused on who they determine our heroes these days—he was a hero.”