Slain officer’s wife: ‘Help my kids to know what you know about my husband’
Amy O’Rourke, with her infant son in arm, thanked the hundreds of mourners who gathered Friday to remember her husband, a West Bloomfield Township police officer killed this week in the line of duty, and urged them to keep faith.
The life of Patrick O’Rourke, 39, was celebrated Friday in the Fenton church where he once married his wife and baptized his four children.
“He knew everyone was on a journey. Wherever you are on that straight and narrow, he would want you to veer back because he wants to see you again, and hug you and tell you how grateful he is for this beautiful tribute,” Amy O’Rourke said, adding she hoped her husband was up in heaven with his idol, Elvis.
“Thank you, your love is just amazing, and I feel it, and it’s wonderful. Just help my kids to know what you know about my husband.”
O’Rourke was killed Sunday by a gunman who held a 20-hour standoff with police. O’Rourke, a 12-year department veteran, is West Bloomfield Township’s first officer to die in the line of duty.
He was fatally shot as he and fellow officers called out to a man they believed to be suicidal in a home on Forest Edge Lane in the township. The standoff ended when the gunman, Ricky Nelson Coley, 50, fatally shot himself.
Before Amy O’Rourke addressed the crowd Friday, West Bloomfield Township Police Chief Michael Patton spoke of the officer who colleagues had nicknamed “Rudy,” the lead character from a 1993 movie about the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles.
“I don’t know how Pat felt about the name, maybe he cringed when he heard it, but he was our Rudy,” Patton said.
Patton also instructed O’Rourke’s family to stand up and told them to turn and face the crowd of at least 500 officers from Michigan and Canada gathered in St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
“As you see, an almost endless rank of uniform public safety workers, I wish to point out that all of these people and all the agencies they represent have always been behind you. Not just since Pat’s death, but since Pat first joined the police department,” Patton told them.
O’Rourke, he said, first joined the department as a cadet, worked uniform and plainclothes assignments and “did all of them well.”
“Pat was always one of the guys you wanted to be with. He radiated that strength and confidence, and it spread to everyone around him,” Patton said. “He had a good nature with people and treated everyone with respect — even those who did not deserve it. He was not only physically strong, but strong in his faith; his faith guided his life.”
O’Rourke, Patton said, did not know he’d be leaving the mortal world on Sept. 9, but “had his mind, heart and his soul ready, if necessary.”
Patton stressed that O’Rourke’s children “need to know that their dad was a hero, and his actions saved the lives of other people.”
“They need to know that he loved them with all of his heart,” Patton said.
Friday’s service opened with the Rev. David Harvey describing O’Rourke as a tender, strong, courageous and compassionate man.
“The best way to love is to put your life on the line. … Patrick did this as every officer does it every day,” he said. “Patrick put his life on the line not only Sunday night in a final way, but in many other ways throughout his 39 years.”
Bagpipes flooded the packed Catholic church as the Honor Guard and O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, walked along with her husband’s casket.
Harvey spoke Friday of O’Rourke’s visit to the church for last Sunday’s service, the same place where he married his wife on July 11, 1998.
“His love was enduring and genuine, as was yours Amy,” Harvey said.
O’Rourke’s three daughters and son were baptized in the church, as well, his youngest son last January, Harvey said, when one of O’Rourke’s daughters also had her First Communion.
“Daddy was so proud,” Harvey said. “We took lots of pictures, I remember.”
Before the service began, Amy O’Rourke stood outside the church doors, clutching a teddy bear to her cheek while family members huddled around her. Later, O’Rourke’s wife of 14 years stood alongside her young daughters, stroking their hair and embracing them, as relatives, friends and officers took Communion.
After the service, at least 1,000 officers stood at attention in the cemetery, saluting as seven rifle officers shot three volleys in O’Rourke’s honor. As “Amazing Grace” was played on the bagpipes, the family paid their respects over the casket draped with an American flag.
Also Friday, the Wayne County sheriff’s department stopped its vehicles at 10:30 a.m. and simultaneously enabled lights and sirens for 15 seconds in memory of O’Rourke.
During a visitation on Wednesday, O’Rourke’s squad car sat by the entrance. A black wreath sat on the windshield and an emblem was placed on the rear of the vehicle in his memory. A day earlier, more than 1,000 people gathered to remember the slain police officer during a memorial service, where they left flowers, prayed and held candles as the sun set.
Bloomfield Hills lawyer Norman Yatooma is raising money for O’Rourke’s family and four children, Eileen, Mary, Andrea and Stephen, through his charity, Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids. The charity also is accepting donations for Coley’s family. More details can be found at http://www.forthekidsfoundation.org/orourke_coley.php.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120914/METRO02/209140398#ixzz27P9qQ9wE