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Thousands of police pay respects to officer



Published: Thu, September 7, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The police officer volunteered to help track down the suspect.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Thousands of police lined the street Wednesday outside the funeral Mass for a Cleveland officer who was shot through a small opening of his bulletproof vest while trying to arrest a rape suspect.

Jonathan Schroeder, 37, was remembered as an officer who set aside personal concerns to do his duty. He volunteered last week to be part of a team of 12 officers to track down the suspect who officers say they knew was dangerous.

"As [Schroeder's widow] Amy and I spoke last Friday, we both agreed this was so unfair," Cleveland Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon said in a eulogy inside a packed St. John Cathedral. The couple has a 10-month-old son.

Bagpipes played as uniformed pallbearers carried Schroeder's flag-draped casket past the officers, who were joined by Mayor Frank Jackson.

Glancing at all the officers outside the church, Cleveland police Sgt. Patricia Coleman expressed appreciation during the service.

"It means a lot to everybody here," she said. "It could be one of us. We all realize it."

What happened

Wilson Santiago, 37, is accused of shooting through a door Friday at police officers trying to arrest him on a warrant for rape and burglary charges at a home on Cleveland's west side.

Officers returned fire, and Santiago, who was not injured, surrendered and was arrested.

Schroeder, a detective known as "AJ", died of a gunshot wound to his upper chest.

"What he did was carry out his duty protecting and serving the people of Cleveland," the bishop said. "Then this good and faithful officer paid the supreme price. It is beyond comprehension."

A judge denied bond for Santiago and entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a charge of aggravated murder.

Schroeder is the fourth Cleveland police officer since 1996 to be killed in the line of duty. The previous one was patrolman Wayne Leon in June 2000.

Lt. Thomas Stacho estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 officers attended the Mass or lined up outside. Hundreds of civilians also waited by the church.

Dozens of police cars filled downtown streets near the cathedral that were closed to other traffic.

Among the officers who traveled to Cleveland was Capt. Charles Rizzo of Tonawanda, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo.

"It's very important that we show this commitment as a group," Rizzo said.

Schroeder's body was taken after the service to his hometown, Monroeville, Pa., where he is to be buried Friday at Good Shepherd Cemetery.




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