City Leaders Remember Officer Marmolejo As 'Hero' At Funeral

Bob Roberts
December 22, 2018 - 4:18 pm
Officer Marmolejo funeral

Chicago Police Department

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson eulogized Officer Eduardo Marmolejo as a hero at the funeral Mass for the married father of three, who was struck and killed by a train Monday in the line of duty.

"Just know that your daddy was a hero, and was someone others should aspire to be," Johnson said to Marmolejo's daughters as he spoke from the pulpit of the St. Rita Shrine chapel.  He said a new guardian angel now has the backs of Calumet district officers.

Emanuel uncharacteristically struggled to maintain his composure as he spoke.

"Just as his smile had the power to light up a room, his memory has the power to light up our city," he said.

The department's Catholic chaplain, the Rev. Daniel Brandt, said Marmolejo married his high school sweetheart, was dedicated to their daughters, brought joy to his family and lived to do good for others, but could be quite the cut-up and always won the award for best costume at his Halloween party.  He said the two bonded while running the Chicago marathon at a time of 5-1/2 hours, which "seemed like 5-1/2 years," he said.

Some of the most powerful comments came from his eldest daughter, Rebecca, who spoke last.

"Knowing that I'll never get to hug or even see you again breaks my heart into a million pieces," she said, struggling to speak. "Everything feels like a dream and nothing feels real."

She said every night since the accident, she has gone to sleep still believing he will come home from work and that everything is all right.

"I tell myself that he just caught up at work or something," she said, knowing it is not true. 

A long-time close friend, Brendan Kiefer, said the first time he recalled Marmolejo, whom he referred to by the nickname "Lalo," saying he wanted to become a police officer occurred when he was stopped in Oak Lawn while driving a car filled with people who were drinking at the time. He said Marmolejo was soon released and driven home much to their surprise. He said Marmolejo told them he made up a story about wanting to be a police officer.

Honest that night or not, Marmolejo worked his way up at Christ Hospital, in Oak Lawn, to become an emergency technician before joining the Chicago Police Department, which had awarded him four honorable mentions and a departmental commendation.

Marmolejo was the second of the two officers killed to be buried. They were struck by an oncoming South Shore Line train while investigating reports of gunshots. Services for Officer Conrad Gary took place Friday, also at the St. Rita Shrine chapel.       

Flags in Illinois have been flown at half-staff since the accident Monday, on orders of Rauner.