San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay, killed in the final standoff with Christopher Dorner that ended with the fugitive multimurder suspect's death, was remembered at his funeral Thursday as an outgoing family man who did not take himself too seriously, but put his life on the line so others would not have to.
Thousands came to the San Manuel Amphitheatre at Glen Helen to mourn MacKay, who was fatally shot Feb. 12 outside a cabin in Seven Oaks. Law enforcement officers came from near and far, including the cities of Redlands, Ontario, Fontana, Riverside, Irvine, San Francisco and Mesa, Arizona.
Capt. Lee Hamblin of the sheriff's Yucaipa Station recalled the storm hundreds of people endured Tuesday night during a candlelight vigil for MacKay at Yucaipa Community Park.
MacKay, who worked in Big Bear and Yucaipa, was a 15-year veteran with the department, Sheriff John McMahon said last week. He was father of a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son. He was a resident of Redlands.
"Jeremiah was a terrific deputy, and a fine detective," McMahon said during MacKay's funeral service. "As I am sure you've gathered, he was very much in touch with his Scottish heritage, and loved playing the bagpipes. Jeremiah was primarily responsible for the addition of bagpipes to the sheriff's honor guard, and regularly played at department events."
McMahon, who attended the vigil in Yucaipa, said Thursday MacKay's sense of humor was memorable, and it reflected his self-depracating manner.
"He was never one to take himself too seriously, as was evidenced by his pink 'Hello Kitty' lunchbag that he regularly toted to work," McMahon said.
But MacKay's final hours in the San Bernardino Mountains where he was raised underscored how seriously he took his job responsibilities, McMahon said.
"Jeremiah MacKay stood for good versus evil. . . . During the manhunt in Big Bear, Jeremiah volunteered to search every day because he knew the area, and it was important for him to stop the terror inflicted upon the region. . . .
"You know many of us here today wonder, 'What would I do when faced with death? Would I rush to the roar, or would I hesitate? Would I move with purpose and persistence, or would I pause and waver?'
"Most of us will probably never know the answer, but we know today what Jeremiah MacKay would do," McMahon said. "He had the courage, tenacity and resolve to risk everything. . . . He was engulfed in a gunfight at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of firepower and tactical positioning, but he remained because it was his duty.
"It was his duty to the citizens of San Bernardino County to place his life at risk to stop an evil man, a man whose objective was to kill innocent people. Jeremiah's bravery, heroism and sacrifice will not be forgotten," McMahon said. "Every law enforcement officer in California owes a debt of gratitude to Jeremiah. We also owe Lynette and the entire MacKay family as well. . . . He truly died so that others did not have to."
For more personal reflections on MacKay from his family and from Yucaipa residents, click here and here. For more on Mackay's background, click here.
MacKay was the second law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty during Dorner's alleged rampage.
Authorities believe Dorner is accountable for four killings in the space of ten days: a former LAPD captain's daughter and her fiancé in Irvine on Feb. 3, Riverside police Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7, and MacKay on Feb. 12.
Crain's funeral was Feb. 13 in Riverside and he was laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery.
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