A FINAL SALUTE
Conrad Gary, one of two Chicago officers fatally struck by a train, is remembered for always putting others ahead of himself
“You could count on Conrad for anything.”
— The Rev. Dan Brandt, a Chicago police chaplain, during the funeralMass for Officer Conrad Gary
When Chicago police Officer Conrad Gary’s friend left to serve in the U.S. military, he took it upon himself to make trips to his friend’s home to make sure the familywas fine.
Others in Gary’s life, from family to other police officers, had similar stories to share in the days after he and Officer Eduardo Marmolejo were fatally struck by a train while searching for a suspect, said the Rev. Dan Brandt, a Chicago police chaplain. A crowd of more than 1,000police officers, family members, friends and dignitaries listened to Brandt on Friday morning in St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel on the city’s Southwest Side.
“Hewas that kind of person, always putting others before himself,” Brandt said at the funeral Mass for Gary. “I was told you could count on Conrad for anything.”
As the sun rose Friday, police officers in their dress uniforms converged on the chapel to mourn Gary. Workers
at a nearby car dealership tied white and blue balloons to car side mirrors to honor the officers. Schoolchildren and teachers lined a portion of the procession, many of them holding their hands over their
hearts. The sidewalks leading to the churchwere lined with officers and bagpipers.
Itwas a familiar scene to a department that already had mourned the loss of two other officers this year. On Nov. 19, Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, was killed in a multiple shooting at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center. OnFeb. 13, Cmdr. Paul Bauer, 53, was fatally shot while chasing a suspect outside the Thompson Center.
Gary, 31, and Marmolejo, 36, were killed Monday night by a South Shore commuter train as they pursued a suspect onto the tracks after a shots-fired call near 103rd Street and Dauphin Avenue. Edward Brown, 24, appeared in court Thursday on firearms-related charges.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during Friday’s service that their deaths added to an already difficult year for the city’s police.
“They have brought tears to our eyes, sorrowto our souls and hurt to our hearts,” Emanuel said. “And as solemn as it is written, God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name.”
Gary joined the Police Department in March 2017. He was assigned to the Calumet District after he had completed his training there. The district was supposed to have its holiday party Friday, but its officers instead spent the day mourning their two fallen colleagues.
Gary grew up in suburban Oak Lawn, graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2009 and had spent more than five years in the Air Force, much of that time deployed in Germany. He and his wife, Kelly, were just starting a family and have a 6month-old daughter, Tess.
Officer Jeffrey Curia, a field training officer, said after theMass that he saw promise and strides toward greatness while training Gary. The two were able to apprehend a suspect in a burglary.
“He showed he wanted to make the city a better place,” Curia said. “I believed in him. I believed he would be an important part of the Police Department.”
Curia’s assessment echoed remarks made by Brandt during the Mass. Gary already was becoming known as an officer in the Calumet District who was quick to provide backup to other cops. At the Chicago police academy, Gary was a “go-to” person who helped classmates, Brandt said.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson described Gary as having a sense of duty that compelled him to help others.
In his remarks, Johnson detailed the last moments of Gary’s life. Gary and Marmolejo climbed a steep embankment as they searched for evidence and for a suspect in the shotsfired call.
“They were determined to get an illegalweapon off the streets of Chicago,” the superintendent said. “That’s what police do. Their only concern was getting the gun off the streets.”
Johnson said itwas rare to hear Gary curse and that he frequently treated his partner to coffee. But Gary’s wife told Johnson it wasn’t because he was a big spender but becausehe had a year’s worth of coffee coupons, Johnson joked.
“That’showhewas buying all that coffee,” the superintendent said.
It was one the few lighter moments of a solemn ceremony during which officers were seen giving hugs to one another during Communion.
Cardinal Blase Cupich concelebrated the Mass and offered condolences to police officers. He encouraged the crowd to reflect on the importance Gary placed on relationships, pointing out how photos shared so frequently showed him with someone rather than alone.
“We need to be present to one another in this city,” Cupich said. “To make sure that no one feels alone, particularly in the depth of their sorrow, their pain and their loss.”
The winter solstice, with the longest night of the year, coincides with the night between the funerals for Officers Gary and Marmolejo, Cupich said. But he pointed out that the sun always slowly returns, and Cupich offered Gary’s baby daughter, Tess, as a sign of hope. He told the crowd to look for signs of Gary in his daughter in the years ahead.
“The way that she will smile andwalk but also the way in which generosity will spontaneously and almost naturally spring in her heart,” Cupich said. “For they will be a reminder that he lives on in her, but also as people of faith that he lives on as he stands before the Lord today, the risen Lord who gives him life, and that same Lord welcomes him into a day in which the sun will never set.”
After the funeral, Tess was covered in a light pink and blue blanket. An officer cradled her outside St. Rita as officers presented Gary’s wife with two flags.
Many officers from other departments, including Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz, and retired Chicago officers attended the funeral.
Pat Learnahan was a Chicago officer for two decades and said he attended because he wanted to pay his respects.
“Four killed this year; it’s horrible,” he said. “I’ll domy best to be at all these trials.”
Pallbearers carry the casket of Chicago police Officer Conrad Gary out of St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Chicago after his funeral Friday.
Chicago Police Department’s Kenyatta Gaines sings “Amazing Grace” during Friday’s funeral service.
Conrad Gary, 31, joined the Police Department in March 2017. He and his wife, Kelly, have a young daughter.
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, from left, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner pay respects Friday at the funeral of Chicago police Officer Conrad Gary.
Chicago police officers salute as Gary’s remains arrive for his funeral at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Chicago on Friday.