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Fallen Chicago Police Officers Honored With Candlelight Vigil

By Josh McGhee | September 18, 2013 9:10am
 Family, friends, and officers paid tribute to the 567 officers who are memoralized at the Chicago Police Memorial.
Candlelight Vigil Tributes Fallen Officers
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MUSEUM CAMPUS — Margaret Mullen was 6 months old when her father, Jim, was shot in his back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Jim Mullen was working as a police officer in Rogers Park that Wednesday night in October 1996. Dispatch sent him and his partner to investigate a drunk man shooting at CTA trains from his apartment window, his daughter said.

"My father heard sirens in the distance, that meant back up was on the way," Mullen said. "He and his partners knocked on the door and hoped for a quick and safe end to this all. However, that was not the case."

When the man did not open the door, Mullen and his partner walked down the hallway to ask their supervisor for permission to break down the door. As the men walked away, the door flung open and the man started shooting from the doorway, Mullen said.

"Everything was moving in slow motion. My father swiftly moved to avoid the traveling bullet, but he just wasn't fast enough," Mullen said. "The bullet caught him in the cheek and traveled down his throat right into his spine. He collapsed."

Mullen was rushed to the hospital, but the gunshot wound paralyzed him from the waist down.

Margaret Mullen, a 17-year-old senior at St. Ignatius College Prep, spoke proudly of her father Tuesday evening at a reception put together by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation at Gold Star Memorial Park.

The park was full of families whose loved ones have been badly injured or killed while working as police officers.

"It's kind of like a reconnection that there are so many other families who are in my shoes," Mullen said.

After the reception, bagpipes lead a precession of Gold Star Families across the street from Soldier Field to the Chicago Police Memorial, where the 10th-annual candlelight vigil was held. At the vigil, all 567 names of fallen officers were read by officers, partners and family of those killed.

"It's showing that it's important ... and it is important that we take that time and do read all 567 names," said Phil Cline, executive director of the foundation and a former police superintendent.

Cline said bringing the families back year after year serves as a reminder and is part of the healing process.

"It shows them they we haven't forgotten about them. Tonight's event was dedicated to them and the loved ones that they lost. There [are] 567 names on that wall, and not one of those cops went to work that day thinking that he wasn't going to come back home. It's a shock to the family," Cline said.

"Every single one of them is still important and still in our prayers. It's really important that they realize that their loved ones are always going to be appreciated," said current Supt. Garry McCarthy.

"It's always very emotional. It's cathartic for the families to spend this time together. Many of these kids have now grown up in families where they're not related, but they're related because of the tragedies they have suffered through."

This year, five names — Terrence Knox, Sidney Sam, John Furlong, Lt. Cournelius Rourke Jr. and Detective William E. Goles — were read aloud at the memorial for the first time after their deaths were reviewed by the Chicago Police Memorial Board Foundation. The board determined that injuries suffered in the line of duty contributed to all of their deaths.

"One of the most solemn and distinguished traditions in law enforcement is honoring the fallen police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the lives of others," McCarthy said.

"The Annual Candlelight Vigil is a testament to the service, selflessness, and character of Chicago's bravest officers and ensures their legacy of courage and integrity will never be forgotten, nor the loved ones they left behind."