WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — Hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their last respects to slain East Washington Police Officer John David Dryer.
It was a solemn journey as the body of Officer Dryer moved by horse-drawn carriage to Immaculate Conception Church with an honor guard that represented law enforcement from all over the country.
Once inside, the 23rd Psalm was read by his sister. His father, John Dryer, Sr., recalled that compassion was not a trait that was new to his son.
Dryer’s brother, Dean, called him his hero from the eighth grade on.
“You were my hero in eighth grade,” he said. “On December 19th, today, tomorrow, I will miss you and I love you. Rest in peace, brother.”
The congregation also heard from Officer Robert Caldwell, who was shot in the hand during the deadly traffic stop Sunday night.
Caldwell said Dryer tried to warn him about what was about to happen. He also recalled how close they were during the death of Caldwell’s daughter last year.
“This is a hard day for me folks,” he said. “Maybe not too many people knew who David Dryer was. This same day last year … David Dryer held my shoulder and wept with me when my little girl went to heaven.”
Caldwell said he and Dryer met in first grade. Caldwell asked him to be his friend and they were friends ever since.
Up to 1,500 law enforcement vehicles with several hundred officers from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia gathered at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pa., ahead of the procession to the church this afternoon.
Firefighters and emergency workers also took part. Between 40 to 50 fire trucks and ambulances were estimated to be part of the procession, which may have gotten up to five miles long.
KDKA’s Bob Allen reports:
Thousands have been paying their final respects to Officer Dryer over the past two days as visitation was held Wednesday and Thursday at the William Neal Funeral Home.
Officer Dryer, 46, grew up on Avella and lived on a small farm in Claysville. He joined the East Washington Police Department in 2010 and was also a veterinarian.
Before that, he worked as a volunteer firefighter, an EMT and a deputy warden in wildlife conservation for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
He leaves behind a 17-year-old son.
Stay with KDKA for continuing coverage of Officer Dryer’s funeral today.