Amid the heartwrenching sound of bagpipes, family, friends and fellow brothers and sisters in blue bid farewell to Denver police Detective Donnie Young Friday morning.
At least a 1,000 mourners, some traveling from across the state, attended the 10:30 a.m. funeral service at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver. Giant TV screens were placed outside the church so the officers and others who could not find a seat inside could still watch and hear the ceremony.Young, 43, was remembered as a loving husband and father, a highly-decorated police veteran and a kind friend.Young's best friend cried openly while delivering his eulogy, recalling life had seemed perfect when they met for breakfast just three days before Young was killed."It's unreal for me to see the support here today. He wasn't just a police detective. He was a great husband, father, son, brother and friend to everyone who knew him. I don't think there wasn't anybody who ever met him, and that smile that's on the picture, who didn't like him," said Detective Jeff Barran.Barran talked about how Young loved to ride his Harley and how his passion for the open road infected others and how he nurtured that by giving motorcycles to friends and family.
"His other passion was his family and I remember riding in the car, and him talking about Kelsey and how she tried to keep up with her older sister with soccer. He just couldn' t wait to get home and see her play," Barran said, smiling.At their last meeting, Young talked about how he had to buy 13-year-old Kourtney another pair of jeans because she was growing up so fast."If you ever needed him he was there. When he was with you, he made you feel like you were the only thing that mattered ... That smile will forever be in my head ... Donnie, I love you. Rest in peace," Barran said, crying.Police Chief Gerry Whitman spoke about how Young distinguished himself during his short career. Young had received the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross awards, and a dozen official commendations. But he too, said that Young's family was his No. 1 priority."To Kelly and all the Young family, thank you for sharing Donnie with us," said Whitman.The brotherhood of police officers who were at the service was not constrained by city boundaries. Police officers from every corner of Colorado stood shoulder to shoulder with Denver officers. They may not have known Young personally but they all shared the pain of his loss."I'm just speechless, speechless. It's just a tragedy when something like this happens. Someone gives up so much to do the job," said Silverthorne police Officer Jeff Thomason.Whitman said he had hoped to catch Young's killer by the time Young was laid to rest, but that has not happened."I'm hoping they catch the guy. I feel for the family, feel a lot for the family. I'm just trying to be here to support them," said Fort Collins police Officer Jason Jungmeyer.Hundreds of officers followed Young's casket to Fort Logan National Cemetery. Kids and adults alike paid their respects along the 12-mile procession route, stopping and saluting the fallen officer.Young served in the Marines and was buried with full military honors at Fort Logan.On Thursday, Young's name was added to a memorial for fallen officers outside police headquarters. More than 50 police officers and department workers gathered and looked on. Some cried, others stood stoically behind dark sunglasses as the letters of Young's name were sandblasted on the marble wall, which was draped with a black sash.Sixty names are now engraved on the memorial.
Officers salute as Detective Donnie Young's coffin is carried out of the cathedral. Slideshow: See More Images From Officer's Funeral Service
Injured Officer Recalls Ambush
It's expected to be a tough day for Young's family and his colleagues, especially Detective Jack Bishop. Bishop, 35, was Young's partner when both were gunned down while working off-duty at a banquet hall.
Bishop spoke publicly for the first time Thursday, saying he still feels some guilt for being "lucky" enough to survive the attack.He described what happened that early Sunday morning, saying he and Young were watching people leave the baptismal party at Salon Ocampo when shots rang out."Nobody should go through what Donnie and I had to go through that night," Bishop said, his voice breaking. "I felt the pain in my back and I knew something was wrong and then I saw Donnie and that's when I knew 100 percent something was wrong ... I thought to myself, 'This isn't really happening. There's no way.'"He recalled with humor the memories of his partner and friend."He put his family first. Donnie was a down -to-earth guy. He was fair to everybody, that's what makes it difficult," said Bishop, choking back tears.With his wife by his side, Bishop explained that he still has severe bruise on his back where a slug hit his bulletproof vest. His wife said hearing that her husband was OK was the best Mother's Day gift she had ever received.Since the shooting, Bishop has been on an emotional "rollercoaster." "The first couple days were real difficult. I didn't sleep much," Bishop said. "If I'm out doing something with my kids, it's in the back of my mind. But when I have a few minutes to myself, and I just think about it, that's when it gets really difficult."
Search Continues For Garcia-Gomez
The search for the suspect whom Denver police believe shot Young and Bishop is now centered in the Los Angeles area. A car that the murder suspect was believed to have been driving was found Wednesday behind a Los Angeles home, and more search warrants are expected in the area.Officers from Denver have teamed up with more than 100 L.A. police officers to find 19-year-old Raul Garcia-Gomez. On Thursday, the different agencies held a news conference in L.A. to notify people in Southern California to be on the lookout for Colorado's most wanted fugitive."I have a message for Raul Garcia-Gomez. You can run, but you can't hide,'" said Denver police division Chief Dave Fisher, standing alongside L.A.'s police chief. "This is probably the most horrific assault on a police officer that I've ever experienced in my career. We're not going to stand for it and we mean business. So, Mr. Garcia-Gomez, for you and your friends that are watching, you need to turn yourself in."Acting LA Police Chief Jim McDonnell said they're also getting help from the FBI, U.S. marshals and immigration officials -- many of whom have been notified that Garcia-Gomez could flee to Mexico."We will work closely with immigration officials to make sure this individual is caught," said FBI agent Jody Weiss. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey wouldn't speculate on extradition if Garcia-Gomez crossed the border, but he said the process can be difficult, especially in a first-degree murder case when the suspect faces the dealth penalty or life in prison.Fliers in English and Spanish are being passed out in Southern California. Authorities are pleading for witnesses to come forward. The reward for information leading to Garcia-Gomez' arrest and conviction has been increased from $50,000 to $100,000.
Denver police have named Raul Garcia-Gomez as a suspect in the ambush shooting of two police officers.
- May 12, 2005: Injured Police Detective Describes Partner's Fatal Shooting
- May 11, 2005: Suspected Cop Killer's Car Found In Calif.
- May 10, 2005: Suspect In Officer's Slaying Worked At Cherry Cricket
- May 9, 2005: Police Search For Gunman Who Ambushed Officers
- May 8, 2005: Denver Police Officer Shot, Killed