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The community pays its respects to Deputy Daniel McCartney

A funeral and memorial service honor the sacrifice made by the fallen Pierce Co. deputy. (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. -- Crowds lined streets and filled an auditorium to honor a Pierce County deputy Daniel McCartney, who was fatally shot during a home invasion.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says about 1,500 law enforcement personnel and 650 patrol vehicles participated in a procession to the Wednesday memorial for Deputy Daniel McCartney at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

The procession arrived at PLU's Olson Auditorium at 11:45 a.m., proceeding under a large American Flag hoisted by two fire truck ladders.

Dozens of bagpipers preceded the arrival of the hearse carrying McCartney's body, followed by a riderless horse to symbolize the loss of the deputy.

Pall bearers then carried McCartney's casket into the Olson Auditorium where the memorial began an hour later.

"Today, one less person of strength and character stands besides us," Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told those gathered at the memorial. "We are weaker for that loss of that deeply good man."

McCartney's aunt Judy Merksy remembered him as someone with a kind and gentle soul who was always available to anyone.

"Daniel lived a lot of life in a very short time," she said. "He was a fearless officer who was not afraid to live life to the fullest. His sacrifice has inadvertently benefited two youngsters who now will have opportunities to grow in loving families. Daniel will be well pleased."

His former boss while he served with the Hoquiam Police Department remembered him as someone dedicated to being a police officer.

"Daniel earned the nickname of 'Danimal' because he was a red-haired bulldog who kept digging and digging," said Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers. "He was a part of the team, but he often liked to be in the lead. His competitive nature...really drove everyone in the department to step up and do better.

Myers repeatedly referred to Dan as someone who made a big ripple in a small pond.

"He made so made so many big ripples in so many small ponds. No matters what years pass, the sacrifice Daniel has made as a peace officer to lay down his life in the protection of his fellow citizens will not be forgotten. But as time moves on and the shock of that night fades in the collective memory of society, I beg all of us to please remember that the sacrifice was made not just by Daniel but the sacrifice continues every single and Cierra and his three little boys... are forced to live without him. Perhaps no one can change ht whole would but Daniel understood he could make a big ripple in a small pond."

Remarks were also given by friends from his time in the U.S. Navy, officers he served with in the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, and the owner of the Crossfit gym in Yelm where he was a coach.

Pierce County Sheriff's deputy Luke Baker says McCartney was not only the kind of partner you wanted when responding to calls, but "Daniel was an individual that if you called 911, you hope he showed up."

He also mentioned how Daniel had wanted his organs donated, and they've since found out some of the recipients include wounded soldiers.

"What an awesome gift," Baker said.

Olympia Officer Shon Malone, who owned the Yelm Crossfit, repeatedly referred to McCartney as a "super hero."

"Daniel you will be missed, but we will never forget your sacrifice," Malone said. "This world clearly lost a shining light in Daniel, but heaven gained a powerful warrior and a true super hero."

The American flag was somberly removed from atop McCarty's coffin, folded, and presented to his wife Cierra, followed by a solo buglar's rendition of Taps and a dispatcher's final radio call to McCartney.

"Pierce County Unit 484 ... Pierce County Unit 4-8-4 ... No answer... Out of service. Gone. But not forgotten."

McCartney was shot on Jan. 8 while investigating a home-invasion burglary in Frederickson. He is survived by a wife and three young sons.

A legacy fund that has been set up to help McCartney's family. Donations can be made at any Tapco or TwinStar Credit Union or online through Tacoma/Pierce County Crime Stoppers.

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