SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -
Thousands of law enforcement officers from across the Southwest gathered Thursday to pay tribute to a Southern California detective killed in the violent conclusion of the manhunt for fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner.
Bagpipers played for slain San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay as motorcyclists with American flags lined the roads outside and a procession of patrol cars slowly drove the last few miles into the San Manuel Amphitheater on a brisk cloudy morning.
Officers stood at attention, their hands to their head in salute as MacKay's coffin, draped with an American flag, was escorted through the outdoor amphitheater by deputies from MacKay's Yucaipa station. MacKay's family and friends followed, joined by four sheep dogs and a riderless horse with polished black boots facing backward in its stirrups.
MacKay, 35, was a husband and father of two who had been with the Sheriff's Department for 15 years. Authorities say he became the fourth and final person Dorner killed. He was gunned down Feb. 12 near a mountain cabin that went up in flames after a shootout. Dorner's remains were found inside.
"Jeremiah MacKay stood for good against evil," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said at the two-hour service. "Jeremiah was a man who made his uniform. His uniform did not make him."
MacKay was a bagpiper and sergeant at arms of the Inland Empire Emerald Society. He often played in remembrance of other officers.
On Thursday, they played for him. Family and friends remembered "Jer" as a man with a big deep laugh, who never took himself too seriously -- as evidenced by the pink Hello Kitty lunchbox he would tote to work. He loved his job, and especially his family. MacKay married the love of his life, Lynette two years ago, and was dad to stepdaughter Kaitlyn Denny, 6, and a 4-month-old son, Cayden.
Lynette MacKay and Kaitlyn sat silently sobbing as McMahon knelt down to say a few words and present the flag. Three shots rang out from the honor guard as "Taps" was played; 10 helicopters flew overhead into the San Bernardino mountains where MacKay met his end.
MacKay followed his father, retired San Bernardino County Fire Department Capt. Alan MacKay, into public service, graduating from the academy as one of the department's youngest deputies on his 21st birthday.
Though he initially considered the Fire Department, MacKay decided on another kind of badge because he didn't just want to serve the public, his father Alan MacKay said Thursday.
"He wanted to intervene when someone was hurting someone else -- and that's what Jeremiah did," MacKay said.
Best friend Roger Loftis related only a few tales of MacKay because most were "rated R," he told the crowd.
He explained the sheep dogs, which flanked him as he spoke. Loftis said MacKay thought good people trying to live a "good honest life" were like sheep and "had to be protected from evil people who will feed on the flock without mercy."
"To be a sheep dog one must have a capacity for violence, but a strong love for your fellow man," Loftis said. "Jeremiah was a man like that."
Loftis said MacKay had told him he was going to get Dorner, and knew he would succeed. "But we paid a hell of a price," he said.
A funeral was held last week for a Riverside city police officer who authorities say was killed by Dorner in an earlier ambush.