Onlookers pay respects at emotional Moszer procession
FARGO -- Everybody became quiet as the hearse carrying Fargo police Officer Jason Moszer came into view. The large crowd, assembled outside the downtown Fargo police station, watched the hearse drive slowly past the place where Moszer worked for ...
FARGO -- Everybody became quiet as the hearse carrying Fargo police Officer Jason Moszer came into view.
The large crowd, assembled outside the downtown Fargo police station, watched the hearse drive slowly past the place where Moszer worked for six years until he was fatally shot Feb. 10 in a shootout with a domestic violence suspect.
Behind the hearse came a stream of more than 100 police cars that took 40 minutes to file by the station at 222 4th St. N.
Cars from Fargo police led the pack. The department closed down Monday so everyone could could pay their respects.
"This is the first time I've witnessed anything like this, and hopefully it's the last," said Fargo Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Anderson.
He said it again: "Hopefully it's the last."
Law enforcement agencies from across the continent joined the procession. They were so numerous, it was difficult to keep track. Of the perhaps 100 cities and counties represented, they included Goshen, Ind., Omaha, Neb., Black Hawk County, Iowa, Kent County, Mich., and Winnipeg.
The staggering showing was emotional for Anderson.
"The police service, they're a pretty tight-knit bunch. They look out for each other, as we do in the fire service," he said. "It's events like this where you see that outpouring of support from all over. They wanted to make sure that we weren't alone."
The residents who stood in the cold along the procession route, which crossed through West Fargo, N.D., Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., offered proof that police are not alone in mourning the loss of Moszer, who died at age 33.
"There are lots of us grieving, even though we didn't know Office Moszer," said Rebecca Knutson, a Fargo School Board member. "I watched the service today and it's exactly like what was said -- there's a hole in our hearts."
The 21-mile procession began about 3 p.m. after a funeral service for Moszer at Scheels Arena. The route, which took about two hours to complete, ended at the Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home near Island park in Fargo, where there was a private ceremony.
Knutson brought her twin 12-year-old daughters to help them understand a death that has rattled this city, where a police officer has not been killed in the line of duty since the 19th century.
"It's historic, as far their lifetime," Knutson said. "There's no way to understand the enormity of what's going on in our community other than visually. We have to witness it."
Many children watched the procession go by, some of them confused by it all. Others felt sympathy, such as 12-year-old Ariana Morganty, who held a single red rose.
Stacie Otteson of Fargo brought her two young daughters because she thought it would help the girls later in life.
"As they get older, it will be something to think back on when there's a tragedy that strikes whatever community that they live in," Otteson said. "They'll just realize that it's important to hold together and show support."
As the cars streamed by, officers exchanged waves with people in the crowd. Onlookers peered down from the skyway above Second Street in downtown Fargo.
It seemed everybody was waving a U.S. flag, including members of local veterans groups.
The route went by places of importance for Moszer, including the Moorhead Armory, where more than 100 people gathered to pay their respects. Moszer was a National Guardsman.
The route also passed Sanford Medical Center, where Moszer died on Feb. 11 after being shot a day earlier in a standoff at 308 9th Ave. N. A man inside the home, Marcus Schumacher, shot and killed Moszer, police believe. The standoff ended with Schumacher's death, either by suicide or police fire.
Some onlookers suggested the officer's death could spark conversation on political and social issues.
"What I really hope is that it makes a lot of people have a little different attitude toward law enforcement; that the people who find it pretty easy to bash the cops will think twice before they start bashing cops," said Doug Scott of Fargo. "They put their life on the line, and I don't think enough people respect that."
Knutson said Moszer's death would open dialogue about domestic violence and gun control.
Police responded to Schumacher's residence for a report of a domestic disturbance. Schumacher was legally allowed to own guns despite a conviction for a violent felony.
"There are a variety of issues at play that are very serious," Knutson said. "I don't think we would be doing Officer Moszer or the community justice without having those kinds of conversations."