ELYRIA — Hundreds gathered Saturday morning along the four-and-a-half mile route to watch the processional bearing the body of slain Elyria patrolman James Kerstetter from the funeral home to Lorain County Community College’s Field House for his funeral.
Balloons, signs and U.S. flags lined state Route 57 and North Abbe Road as more than 100 police vehicles bearing police officers and their families, some stone faced, others openly crying, to the college.
Kerstetter’s daughters smiled through tears and waved from the back of their limousine to the crowds paying their respects to the first police officer killed in the line of duty in 67 years.
The crowd was feeling fear and anger, but sadness and a need to show Kerstetter’s family respect and support was the overriding emotion.
The parking lot at the college was filled with police cars from all over the state. Signs along the route proclaimed, “Hero! #177,” “We love you Officer Kerstetter,” “You Will Never Be Forgotten,” “Thank you,” “Elyria has a hole in its heart,” “God Bless You,” “Our Prayers Are With The Kerstetter Family. God Bless You. Badge #177” and “Officer Kerstetter Guarding the Gates of Heaven.”
Two ladder fire trucks draped a large American flag over the roadway and dozens of people gathered in front of a sign flashing the message “In Memory of James A. Kerstetter, Patrolman Elyria Police Department, End of Watch March 15, 2010, Heroes Live Forever.”
After the funeral, it took nearly 40 minutes for 383 vehicles representing dozens of police departments from around the state to drive through Elyria, pausing in front of the Police Department and then continuing on to the cemetery.
People carrying signs and U.S. flags filled the area in front of the Police Department and lined Lake Avenue They swelled into the street itself as the procession drove by.
Read Sunday's Chronicle for more on this story.
Photos by the CT's Steve Manheim and Chuck Humel.