INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Hundreds of people throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area paid their respects on Saturday to fallen Independence Police Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans.
Over a dozen community members started gathering around 11 a.m. on E. Jackson Drive to show their support as the motorcade passed by. Tammy Perry was in the crowd, waiting with bated breath and an American flag in hand.
“We need to honor his family and honor him in such a way that his life will have a legacy for our future generations,” Perry said. “I’m grateful for his dedication and his sacrifice.”
She says people who live in her neighborhood love Independence, their community and its police officers. Perry wants the family of Madrid-Evans to know the community is behind them.
“I honor your son. My heart goes out to you,” Perry said.
For Ryan Barker, he cannot shake the feeling it could have happened to his own brother who is also on the force. His brother was called in to assist Madrid-Evans the night of the shooting.
“It’s a wake-up call. You know, you think every day, ‘Could this be the day my brother doesn’t come home?’ in situations like this,” Barker said. “He’s going through pretty much every emotion imaginable — from anger to sadness.”
The loss of a brother in blue was deeply felt at the annual fundraiser of the Kansas City Police Officers Memorial Foundation. The reason for the occasion was not lost on those in attendance.
“It’s really tough to be out here, but like I said, we’re doing it for a good cause,” said Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department officer Kelsey Reinhardt. “Our blue family is everything — good friends, family … We’re all here for one another.”
The annual fundraiser was created five years ago to benefit the Kansas City Police Officers Memorial Foundation. But each year, they have donated a portion of their proceeds to families of fallen or wounded officers.
“It's tough losing anybody, especially someone you know, especially someone in the line of duty. He was working for us, so that’s sad,” said Kelley Washington who attended the event.
$4,000 was raised ahead of Sunday’s event and presented to the family of Madrid-Evans. Developmental Director of the memorial foundation, Jeanene Kiesling, says the family will receive a second round of donations after the proceeds from a raffle have been tallied.
“Anything that would happen to come up that at some point Blaize would have provided, but maybe couldn’t provide at this point. It’s gonna be important to them as time moves on,” said Independence Police Department’s spokesperson Jack Taylor. “I was shocked when I pulled into the parking lot that there were so many people here. It’s really overwhelming.”