Hundreds Bid Farewell to Slain Gary Police Officer

The funeral began at 11 a.m. at the Genesis Convention Center

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officer Jeff Westerfield of the Gary Police Department was laid to rest after being shot on patrol more than a week ago. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski reports.

    More than 1,000 members of law enforcement gathered early Monday in downtown Gary, Indiana, to honor an officer slain while on-duty on his birthday.

    Officer Jeff Westerfield, 47, was shot and killed last Sunday. Officials said he was responding to a call of shots fired a few miles south of downtown Gary, and a citizen discovered him unresponsive in a parked squad car hours later.

    "We are always saddened when we lose one of our brothers or sisters in law enforcement," Joe Hamer, chairman of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police, said. "We always have that plan of going home to our families. Unfortunately in cases like Jeff, someone took his life too soon."

    Per tradition, officers wore a white carnation upside down and stained with a red dot in honor of a fallen comrade.

    Crowds Honor Slain Gary Officer at His Funeral

    [CHI] Crowds Honor Slain Gary Officer at His Funeral
    Hundreds of mourners gathered Monday afternoon to honor a slain Gary police officer. Susan Carlson reports.

    Westerfield was a 19-year veteran of the police force with four daughters and a fiancee. He planned to retire next August, family members said.

    "Dad was something special," Westerfield's daughter, Allie, said. "He loved his motorcycle. I can't tell you how many times he would take me and we would just drive around, not really looking for anything, just driving." 

    In a somber show of respect, police vehicles from as far away as Ohio formed a funeral procession to the cemetery where Westerfield was laid to rest.

    There were so many of them that it took more than half an hour for them to leave the convention center, a lasting memory of an officer who will not be forgotten.

    "For a lot of neighborhoods here, when he was working, he was the best thing the neighbors had," Sen. Joseph Donnelly said. "He was their friend. He was somebody they knew they could count on."

    Police were questioning three people, one of which was described as a "person of interest," last week, but no charges have been filed.