Thousands of mourners gathered over the weekend to say goodbye to the Chicago Police Department’s 18th District Commander, Paul Bauer. On Tuesday, his wife thanked the city of Chicago for helping restore her faith in humanity.
A week after her husband was gunned down in a stairwell outside the Thompson Center, Erin Bauer expressed gratitude to residents across the city for an outpouring of support that grew from flowers and memorials to a full-scale funeral procession over the weekend.
“I saw people of every color taking time out of their day, not only to pay respects to Paul, but to the entire Chicago Police Department,” Erin Bauer wrote. “They are the men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line each day to protect people they don’t even know. They are my new family.
“I saw each and every one of you from the darkened window of my car. The good people in this world far outnumber the bad. Grace and I are humbled, as Paul would be.”
Bauer was shot six times last Tuesday as he pursued 44-year-old Shomari Legghette on foot in the Loop. Legghette was quickly apprehended after the shooting and charged in the 31-year CPD veteran’s death. He faces the possibility of a life sentence if convicted.
Friends and acquaintances remembered the fallen commander as a true gentleman and stand-up guy who loved being an officer. In her letter, Erin Bauer says her husband would have “winced” at the attention his funeral garnered and any inconvenience it may have caused his neighbors in Bridgeport.
“He never wanted to be in the spot light,” she wrote. “He never thought of himself, only others.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday announced the city will name its new Joint Public Safety Training Academy in honor of Paul Bauer. CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Tuesday said the city has repeatedly shown the best of itself following the shooting, noting the constant donations of food and flowers from businesses and restaurants to officers since Bauer’s death. He also pointed to Erin, and her 13-year-old daughter Grace, saying they have propped up the entire department.
“They truly are the epitome of what is ‘Chicago strong,’” Johnson said, “because the courage and strength that those two have shown throughout this has just been nothing short of phenomenal.”
While acknowledging that she Grace are “broken in a million pieces,” Erin Bauer thanked all those who waited in the cold Saturday to pay their respects to her husband during the 15-mile procession to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
“One man almost stole my faith in humanity,” she wrote, “but the City of Chicago and the rest of the nation restored it and I want to thank you for that.”
Read Erin Bauer’s full letter below.
“I sit here writing a letter that I never thought I’d have to write. On February 13, my husband and Grace’s dad, Paul Bauer, was violently taken from us. Needless to say, our hearts are broken in a million pieces and our lives are forever changed. But that’s not the reason I am writing.
“I’m writing to thank all the people of Chicago for the outpouring of love and support at this horrendous time in our lives.
“Paul would have been terribly upset that he inconvenienced so many people with the parking restrictions in our beloved Bridgeport. He would have winced at the thought that the Dan Ryan closed down for the funeral procession. He never wanted to be in the spot light. He never thought of himself, only others.
“I want to thank those of you (who) waited for hours in the cold to attend his wake and funeral. You have no idea how much that meant to us.
“If I wasn’t out of tears, I would have cried the entire route to the cemetery. I want you to know that I saw each and every one of you who stopped on the side of the road to salute as the hearse went by. I saw the blue blanket draped over the fence along the expressway and the large banners with Paul’s pictures.
“The trip down 111th Street stands out in my mind. There were families with small children walking in the bitter cold to say a prayer, hold a homemade sign or wave a flag. There were young and old. The Chicago Fire Department was there with their trucks, while so many of its men and women saluted as we drove by.
“I saw people of every color taking time out of their day, not only to pay respects to Paul, but to the entire Chicago Police Department. They are the men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line each day to protect people they don’t even know. They are my new family.
“I saw each and every one of you from the darkened window of my car. The good people in this world far outnumber the bad. Grace and I are humbled, as Paul would be.
“One man almost stole my faith in humanity, but the City of Chicago and the rest of the nation restored it and I want to thank you for that.”
Feb. 15: Shomari Legghette, 44, was charged a day after the fatal shooting of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer. He was allegedly wearing body armor and carrying a firearm containing an extended-round magazine.
Feb. 14: The Chicago Police Department on Wednesday continued mourning the loss of 53-year-old Commander Paul Bauer a day after he was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Feb. 13: “It’s a difficult day for us, but we will get through it,” an emotional Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday following the shooting death of 18th District Commander Paul Bauer.