BUFFALO, N.Y. — For the thousands of friends, family members, fellow law enforcement officers and strangers who came out Wednesday to honor Buffalo Police Officer Craig E. Lehner, it was a day full of emotions and sharing memories about a man who gave his life serving his community.
Mourners lined the streets from the funeral home in Hamburg to KeyBank Center in Buffalo to honor Officer Craig Lehner.
"You just want to show some of your support the best you can," said mourner Marcia Shiel.
"He was the truest example of the selfless bravery that men and women in uniform are called upon to demonstrate each and every day," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Officer Lehner's partner on the force for nine years, Officer Tommy Champion, shared some of his favorite memories with the crowd at the funeral.
"Imagine working as a young police officer with your best friend every single day. We would be on our way to a call in our patrol car, whenever Craig would see someone in the car next to us rocking out singing their music, completely lost in their own world, he'd look over at them and start dancing to the same song, prompting me to do the same," said Officer Champion.
Front and center at the funeral, was Officer Lehner's other partner- his K-9 partner, Shield.
"Since the tragic incident, I have received numerous requests to adopt Shield. Including about a hundred requests from my 12-year-old daughter. Probably more like two-hundred. But I had to tell her no. She said to me, 'Dad, Shield needs a home. He needs a family.' I said, 'No, Mia, the BPD is his home and his family,"' said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
After the funeral, crowds gathered on Delaware Avenue as law enforcement officers escorted Officer Lehner's casket to his final resting place at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
"He was a great officer, but even a better man," said Nick Revelas, a Canisius High School senior.
"God has gained one of our best soldiers as an angel in his army. And, I refuse to say goodbye. Look around you. His vast presence is still here with us. The memories still fresh in our minds and our hearts, and I know I will see him again one day," said Officer Champion.
Officer Lehner's name will go on the wall at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Brown says the city and the police department have several ideas for how to permanently recognize Lehner in Buffalo. You'll be hearing about those memorials in the coming weeks.