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Procession honors slain Lakewood officers

Tue., Dec. 1, 2009, 12:31 p.m.

The bodies of the four Lakewood police officers gunned down at a Parkland coffee shop Sunday were taken from the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office to the Mountain View Funeral Home in Tacoma this morning, and support for their families continues.

While county employees watched, the procession was led by two Lakewood motorcycle officers. Each slain officer’s body was carried in a Lakewood ambulance.

The motorcycles were followed by a stream of police cars, some from other agencies. In the cars were police and civilians. Many were in tears as the vehicle moved along the street.

The procession went about 50 blocks down Pacific Avenue to the funeral home.

Daniel Nonelli, of Tacoma, stood with about 100 people watching the procession.

“I figured it was the least I could do to pay tribute to them,” he said. “It’s such a terrible thing. Seeing the ambulance made it a hundred times” sadder and more real.

Added Cheryl Cilenti of Tacoma. “I’m thankful they found the guy. My heart goes out.”

John Price watched the procession with tears rolling down his face.

“I cried and I cried and I prayed,” he said.

He decided to go to the procession because “that’s what you do when your heart goes out. It hurts so bad.”

For the families of the slain officers, the outpouring of support and sympathy continued for a third day.

The number of messages left on a Facebook memorial page climbed to almost 130,000, with many of the recent posts expressing relief that the suspected killer had been killed by police.

“Now that justice has been served, all of you can rest in peace,” wrote Liala Smith.

Kyle Sorenson, who works at a Lake City car dealership, wrote: “Everyone in Lake City has their flags at half mast. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lakewood community and the families of the officers.”

A fund created for the officers’ families received thousands of dollars in contributions.

Skeeter Manos, treasurer of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, wrote on the guild’s Web site Monday night: “Words alone cannot begin to describe how much donating means not only to the fallen officers’ families, but to each and every Lakewood officer. The comments that are sent along with each donation are personally read by me. Many times I have had to stop and recompose myself because of the overwhelming support and compassion displayed by the generous community supporting us during this difficult period.”

Donations can be made at the Guild Web site,

A candlelight vigil is planned at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lakewood YMCA, 9715 Lakewood Dr. S.W. Similar vigils are being organized around the state.

People in Vancouver, Wash., plan a vigil at 6:30 tonight outside the Vancouver police station, 605 E. Evergreen.

A formal public memorial service has been set for 1 p.m. next Tuesday at the Tacoma Dome.

Tani Zarelli, wife of state Sen. Joseph Zarelli, who is organizing the Vancouver vigil, said she was moved to honor the slain officers, their families and all law-enforcement officers around the state.

“We know this wounds them all,” she said.

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