Officers with the Columbus Police Department paid respects to Mario Herrera, a Lincoln police officer who was shot while serving a warrant, on Saturday by being among the many who attended the late officer's funeral services.
Herrera sustained a critical gunshot wound on Aug. 26 while assisting with serving an arrest warrant. He died on Sept. 7 from those injuries.
CPD Capt. Doug Molczyk, along with seven other officers, attended the services and participated in a processional to honor Herrera’s memory.
Although Molczyk didn’t know Herrera personally, he compared hearing of a fellow officer’s death to losing a loved one.
“It’s like losing a family member,” Molczyk said.
The Columbus Police Department has been known to attend the funerals of law enforcement who have been killed in the line of duty in the state of Nebraska.
“We participated in the processional from the services to the gravesite,” Molczyk said on Monday of Saturday’s services. “There was law enforcement, there were first responders, there were community members, there were government dignities – the governor was there. I believe at least one of our congressmen was there.”
Also at the procession, hundreds lined the streets to show their support of Herrera, who had been a 23-year veteran of the Lincoln Police Department, according to Telegram sister paper the Lincoln Journal Star.
“It was quite an event to witness and partake in,” Molczyk said.
CPD Chief Chuck Sherer noted the grief he feels when a law enforcement officer is killed.
“It saddens me. It saddens me,” Sherer said.
The Columbus Police Department dealt with a similar, almost-tragedy.
“We went through this a couple of years ago when Brad Wangler was shot but, fortunately, he survived his ordeal,” Sherer said.
Wangler had been shot in June 2018 and was wounded in the shoulder and neck, according to Telegram reports.
Eleven years ago, Deputy Christopher Johnson of the Platte County Sheriff’s Office died on Aug. 29 from injuries sustained from an auto accident while in the line of duty. The sheriff’s office recently honored Johnson in a social media post.
“The bench that was donated by his parents sits in our lobby and reminds us daily of his ultimate sacrifice,” the post, dated Aug. 29, reads. “His smile, laugh and dedication to be the best law enforcement officer he could be will never be forgotten.”
Sherer commented on the danger law enforcement officers face each day, though it’s often taken for granted.
“You don’t handle a bigger situation than when an officer gets shot,” he said. “It kind of brings the reality of what we do for a living. It brings it close to heart, it’s kind of surreal. You get up and go to work that day, you get dressed and you just take things for granted. But, at the end of the day, you may not be coming home. Not every profession has that type of risk involved.
“I give out some prayers for Officer Herrera, his family and the officers and staff at the Lincoln Police Department.”
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.