Mourning a fallen officer, father

Funeral: With police ritual and prayer, family, friends and colleagues gather to lay Brian Winder to rest.

July 10, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Brian D. Winder's relatives came to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen yesterday morning to mourn a devoted family man who had turned down prestigious assignments in the Baltimore Police Department to spend time at home.

Colleagues came to pay tribute to an energetic officer who took pride in being his district commander's favorite.

But most of the more than 1,500 people who packed the cathedral had never met the 36-year-old Winder. They were police officers like him - who respond to calls like the one that killed Winder. And they were drawn there to honor a man who had served 10 years on the city's police force and kept returning to the neighborhood where he grew up - and where he was gunned down.

"There is one nagging question on the hearts and minds of so many of you who are here this morning," said the Rev. Edward Miller, the pastor at St. Bernardine parish in Edmondson Village. "Why?"

Winder, who was raised in Edmondson Village, requested last year to return to patrol in the West Baltimore neighborhood. He could have escaped the downtrodden neighborhood, but he returned to teach others that they could, too, his friends said.

Late last Saturday, after responding to a domestic dispute call in the neighborhood, Winder was ambushed by two men at a nearby liquor store and shot five times. One suspect was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder; another suspect killed himself early Wednesday morning as police prepared to arrest him.

The mourners began filing into the North Baltimore church early yesterday, pausing at Winder's open casket. His colleagues raised their white gloves and saluted Winder, who was buried in his uniform. At least one collapsed at the sight of him.

It was the first time since November 2002 that Baltimore police had buried a slain colleague.

Friends, family and police from across the country filled all 54 rows of pews, lined the sides of the church and spilled into the choir loft above. For two hours, police pageantry mixed with religious praise.

"Without faith," Miller said, "this death is forever tragedy without a trace of victory."

`He's an angel'

His eulogy preceded short addresses by political leaders, police leaders and friends who spoke about courage, heroes and Winder's smile. Those leaders also sought to console those sitting in the front row - Winder's wife, Lorrie; his 15-year-old son Corey; his 7-year-old son Brandon; and his 24-year-old stepdaughter Kimberly Goodman.

Mayor Martin O'Malley recalled the story of how he met 7-year-old Jeremiah Stokes earlier this week at Winder's viewing. Stokes' mother works for the Fire Department and responded to the call when Winder was shot. Jeremiah and his mother attended the viewing, where Stokes told the mayor, "It's OK, he's an angel."

"Perhaps he always was," O'Malley said yesterday.

Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark looked at Corey and Brandon and said: "Your father has laid a path, a clear path, as to what manhood is all about. Follow that path."

`I want him back'

After the service, a motorcade with more than 100 motorcycle police and more than 350 police cars snaked its way north to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, where Winder was buried with a 21-gun salute.

The shots were fired by the police honor guard, of which Winder was a member.

The motorcade arrived through the arch of two fire truck ladders, an American flag unfurled from their apex. Police Sgt. Malik Jenkins-Bey played taps. And a dispatcher placed Winder out of service, announcing that he is "10-7 ... forever."

But before the burial, standing outside the church as the bagpipers played and police officers carried away the flag-draped casket, Brandon clung to his mother.

The boy cried: "I want him back."

Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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