Short bursts of police sirens cut through the cold winds Monday night as a black hearse pulled out of Memorial Hospital.
On his 11th anniversary as an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy, Micah Flick’s comrades ushered him through the final moments of his last shift.
Hundreds of people – possibly more – stood in the freezing wind across Colorado Springs Monday evening, many holding American flags to pay one last tribute to the fallen deputy as he rode from Memorial Hospital Central to the county Coroner’s Office.
Flick was backed by hundreds of cruisers and squad cars from more than 20 law enforcement agencies in a procession that stretched nearly a mile.
The act was one of solidarity, said Michael Schnee, who had grabbed the faded U.S. flag from his front porch and raced in his car to the Boulder Street curbside.
A block away, Steve Kellogg held a large U.S. flag with one royal blue stripe as he stood in the sea of red and blue flashing lights. The Colorado Springs native had just gotten off work at the Limon Correctional Facility when he heard about the shooting.
“It does anger me that somebody would go to such extreme lengths to take an officer’s life – an officer, again, who is sworn to protect our community,” Kellogg said.
Melissa Washington stood along East Las Vegas Street, shivering without a jacket as Flick’s procession passed by.
His death and the cold brought tears to Washington’s eyes as her infant grandson, Courtney, poked his head out the driver’s window and cried out.
It was a familiar sight, Washington said. Just more than two years ago, she watched as a hearse carrying University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey passed by her after the shooting at Planned Parenthood in November 2015.
“It’s our community, and we come together when this happens.”
Two other communities across Colorado’s Front Range know that sight, too. In just the past five weeks, two other sheriff’s deputies have been slain in separate shootings in Douglas and Adams counties. One died in an ambush-style shooting that left four of his fellow deputies wounded, while the other man was killed while chasing someone wanted for questioning in a fight.
Bob Falcone, a former fire investigator for the Sheriff’s Office, wondered when it would stop.
“You worry about what’s happening next,” Falcone said. “I didn’t know what to make of it.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” he added.
As the procession passed, Falcone took his old firefighter helmet off and placed it against his chest. His wife, Joanne Peterson, raised her arm to wave. Ten motorcycles passed with lights flashing. Then, the black hearse carrying Flick.
“These are the people who defend us,” Falcone said.
“That just shows you the brotherhood,” added his wife.
For Raymond Fuller, who works for Randy’s High Country Towing, the procession was an all-hands-on-deck situation. The company handles all the “major stuff” for the Colorado Springs Police Department, including shootings, accidents and more, Fuller said.
“We know a lot of the officers personally, joke with them,” Fuller said.
And when Monday’s shooting came over the company’s radio system, Fuller and his team lined their tow trucks along Las Vegas Street, lights on.
“Everybody has to come in,” he said.
And that’s the way it should be, mourners across the city said. One city, standing behind the men and women sworn to protect it.
“They’ve got to feel like there are people out there that support them,” said Tina Martin, who lives a block from where the shooting happened. “I’m sure at times it must feel like all civilians are against them, so they need to know they’re not.”
“They’re family. Not blood. But they’re family,” said her husband, David Martin. “We might not always agree with some of the policies, but we’ve got to support them.”