Slain West Bloomfield officer hailed for devotion to family, faith, work

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His widow cradled a folded American flag as she sat before his casket. Officers in blue, not known for shedding visible tears, stood nearby, a few giving in to their grief.

Patrick O’Rourke, the 39-year-old West Bloomfield police officer struck down by a bullet Sunday night, was laid to rest Friday in Fenton.

As a late summer breeze blew and sunshine replaced memories of a rainy morning, hundreds of police officers, firefighters and others from across Michigan and parts of Canada stood in St. John Cemetery to pay their final respects.

The 12-year veteran and father of four was shot when he and other officers went to assist someone they believed to be suicidal Sunday night.

Police said Ricky Nelson Coley, 50, shot through his bedroom door, striking O’Rourke of Fenton and setting off a 20-hour standoff with police. Coley was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on his bed Monday afternoon.

The ceremonial final radio call for O’Rourke, which followed a three-gun salute, echoed from a crackling loudspeaker: “He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, sir. Rest in peace.”

The funeral procession had followed a riderless horse as it moved from the service site at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church across the street to the cemetery, where it passed under a flag hanging from the extended ladder of a West Bloomfield fire truck.

The procession passed officers standing shoulder to shoulder, many with black fabric over badges. Most also wore small blue ribbons folded into a bow on their lapels or badges.

Before leaving the burial site, O’Rourke’s widow, Amy O’Rourke, bent over the casket and embraced the casket and kissed its top.

During the funeral, she held their youngest child, 9-month-old Stephen, as she told the crowd that filled the church and a spillover tent nearby that O’Rourke “knew everyone was on a journey” in life.

She called the outpouring of support “just awesome.”

The service had elements of ceremony, complete with drums and bagpipes, but also moments of levity as West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton, doing his best Irish accent, said he thought O’Rourke had the perfect police officer’s name for an old Hollywood movie.

O’Rourke, he said, “radiated strength and confidence.”

“You could not provoke him,” Patton said.

He said that O’Rourke’s children “need to know his actions saved the lives of other people.”

And he encouraged others to emulate O’Rourke’s life.

“It was a near-perfect blend of work, family and faith,” he said.

The Rev. David Harvey, pastor of the church, told those in attendance that he had known the O’Rourkes for years, performed the high school sweethearts’ 1998 wedding and baptized their children.

“The very best way to love is to put your life on the line,” which is what he said O’Rourke did. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice last Sunday evening.”

Therese Tuski Scarpace, 52, a social worker who lives and works in West Bloomfield, attended the service and said that most people don’t understand the sacrifices police officers make for their communities. Her husband, Dennis Scarpace, is a retired West Bloomfield officer and her brother Ron Tuski is an officer in Auburn Hills.

She said her heart sank when she heard about O’Rourke’s death.

“Every day they go out there, you never know,” she said of what police face in their jobs. “Every run could end like this.”

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: elawrence@freepress.com
More Details: Funds established for 2 families

Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids has established funds to provide financial assistance to the two families affected by the shooting death Sunday of West Bloomfield Police Officer Patrick O’Rourke.

The foundation’s O’Rourke Family Fund benefits O’Rourke’s four children.

The foundation’s Coley Family Fund benefits the family of Ricky Coley, who police say shot O’Rourke before killing himself after a standoff with police. Coley had a 7-year-old son.

To donate, go to www.forthe kidsfoundation.org or send a check, indicating the name of the fund, to Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids, 1900 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills 48302.

http://www.freep.com/article/20120915/NEWS01/309150085/Farewell-to-a-hero?odyssey=nav|head

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