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Thousands say final goodbye to Officer Dunn

Annie Zelm • Mar 26, 2011 at 5:54 PM

(UPDATED WITH PROCESSION VIDEO) Law enforcement officers traveled from as far away as Oklahoma on Friday to see Officer Andrew Dunn make his last journey through the city.

More than 300 cars preceded and trailed the burgundy hearse in a somber procession that inched from The Chapel on Galloway Road to Dunn's final resting place at Calvary Cemetery on Sanford Street.

The 6-mile trip took almost two hours.

Residents huddled together in blankets along Meigs Street for more than an hour to bid the officer a final farewell, but no one seemed to mind waiting.

"He gave his life for us," said Sandusky resident Ronnie Herrin, 29, who shivered in the 30-degree wind with her son, Dominic, 10, in front of the Sandusky Police Department. "We can stand out in the cold for him."

Herrin went to school with Dunn and remembers him talking about his dream of becoming a police officer, even as a young boy.

Tears came to her eyes as she waited, and she sobbed when the hearse drove past, followed by a limousine carrying his family. Dunn's son, Caleb, 3, waved to residents from his grandfather's lap, unable to fully grasp the events of the past week.

The 75 or so people who lined Meigs Street had been chatting quietly among themselves, checking their phones and listening to police radio traffic to determine when the procession might arrive.

A silence fell across the crowd as soon as people saw the first flash of cruiser lights.

About 180 vehicles passed through Meigs Street, but the full procession included more than 300. A long line of Sandusky police cruisers were followed by those from almost every area agency, many from around Ohio and some as far away as Niagara Falls and Chicago.

Three helicopters hovered overhead -- one from the Ohio State Highway Patrol and two from the Cleveland Police Department.

Renee Johnson, 52, a fifth-grade teacher at Mills Elementary School, tried to relay to her students the significance of what took place in the community that afternoon.

Many cheered when they learned they'd be dismissed early, she said, but she reminded them it wasn't an occasion to celebrate.

Lisa Alley, 33, stood with her three children, who all wore red, white and blue ribbons. Her son, Makai Lipsey, 7, paced in circles as he held a poster with the officer's photo, while daughter Adrianna Alley, 4, clutched star-shaped balloons.

The family didn't know Dunn, but wanted to pay their respects nonetheless.

Sandusky resident Donald Cole, 56, waited for the processional with his digital camera in hand, with his son, Garrett, 16, by his side.

He wore a shirt emblazoned with the logo, "Sandusky Citizens Police Academy" and said he came in part because of his family's legacy in law enforcement.

His grandfather, Harry Cole, was a sheriff in the area during Prohibition, and his father served as a patrolman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

"It goes back to respect," he said.

Cole said he hoped residents would keep Dunn's memory alive by working to make the city a better place.

"We can use this incident to make Sandusky stronger, or we can forget," he said.

See Saturday's Register for more photos, community reaction, local tributes and funeral coverage.

Click on the player below to watch the procession make its way through downtown Sandusky

registermedia on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

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