A rock, a warrior, a model police officer and a devoted husband and father — all were among the outpouring of words used Saturday to extol fallen Lancaster police Officer Craig Shaw, killed in the line of duty Sunday.
Hundreds of family members, officers, public officials and others poured into Dallas’ Inspiring Body of Christ Church on Saturday to pay final tribute to the officer, who Lancaster Police Chief Keith Humphrey said “gave his life so that those with him on Sunday wouldn’t have to.”
"He was a selfless man who gave his life on Father's Day, protecting those who did not have the ability to protect themselves," he added.
Bouquets of flowers in all shapes and sizes lined the stage surrounding the black casket in which Shaw lay in uniform, his head resting on an American flag.
Minutes before the ceremony began, the casket was closed and an American flag was draped across it. A single bagpiper slowly walked down the center aisle to the front of the church, playing somber notes while followed by Shaw's wife, Tiwanda; daughter, D'Andrea; and son, Chris.
Shaw's extended family was so large in number that many had to be seated beyond the first three rows designated for relatives.
More than half of those in attendance were area law-enforcement officers. Lancaster officers sat in the sanctuary’s middle section behind the family and were led in by Humphrey.
After introductory comments by the Rev. Rickie Rush of IBOC, Humphrey took the podium with what he described as a heavy heart.
"If you ever want to know what a model police officer looks like, look no further. It was Craig Shaw."
He went on to present the department's Challenge Coin to Shaw's family. D'Andrea was given a police officer's cap, and 7-year-old Chris, whom Humphrey described as Shaw’s “little man” and his partner, was given his father’s badge and identification card.
In a message sent to The Dallas Morning News through a friend, Tiwanda Shaw said what she wanted people to remember about her husband: "The most important thing is that he was the best husband and father anyone could ever dream of or hope for. He was my rock and best friend."
Lancaster police chaplain Paul Gilbreath said Shaw was “a warrior who loved his profession and his community. And he died serving that community.
"One of the things about Craig was that at any call, he was the first one there and the first one to go in."
Shaw also exuded a warmth of character, Gilbreath said.
"If you knew this officer, one of the things that you could never forget was that contagious smile,” he said. “That smile, even in some pretty difficult times.
"He loved his job and that's the part that makes it easier. He died doing something that he loved," said a friend Denaus Eddings.
Shaw was slain while responding to a call of shots fired at a Lancaster apartment complex last Sunday. He was shot by 27-year-old David Brown Jr., the son of Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Brown, who minutes before had also gunned down 23-year-old bystander Jeremy McMillian, was shot and killed by Lancaster police officers.
At Saturday’s funeral, the Dallas chief sat by Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert near the front of the church in a section filled with government officials. The chief said just before the service began that he did not want to discuss his decision to attend.
"I'm reserving all of this day for the Shaw family," Brown said.
"It was good for the chief to be here and I think that Officer Shaw's dad put it in perspective, they've all lost, we are all in this together and we will all get through this together," said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Shaw’s funeral was the last of the three for those killed in the shootings. On Friday, McMillian was laid to rest at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, and Brown was buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Dallas.
Close family and friends met Saturday morning at the home of Shaw's parents, Lee and Geraldine Shaw, to caravan to the church. A 19-foot-by-30 foot American flag hoisted up by two Dallas Fire-Rescue ladder trucks billowed like a sail over the driveway leading into the church.
After the funeral, mourners made the miles-long journey north to Restland Cemetery, near LBJ Freeway and Greenville Avenue, where Shaw was laid to rest.
Family members were invited to return to the church for dinner.
“We're a very strong family unit and we have to be to get through this," said Shaw cousin Latonya Alexander.