Killed Kane County deputy Brian Harris laid to rest in Glendale

Daughter: 'I always looked up to him. He was my hero'

Published: Friday, Sept. 3 2010 11:44 p.m. MDT

The casket of slain Kane County deputy Brian Harris is placed in a hearse to be taken to the Glendale Cemetery. Thousands turned out for his funeral on Friday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

ORDERVILLE, Kane County — A community said goodbye to its hero Friday.

Kane County sheriff's deputy Brian Harris, shot and killed in the line of duty Aug. 26 while pursuing a burglary suspect, was laid to rest in the small Kane County town of Glendale.

More than 2,000 people packed the gymnasium of Valley High School in Orderville for Harris' funeral service. A couple hundred other people listened to an audio and video feed of the ceremony from adjacent auditoriums and even in the neighboring LDS Church meetinghouses in Orderville and Glendale.

The most emotional part of Friday's two-hour funeral service came when Harris' widow, Shawna, and his two daughters, Kirstyn, 13, and Kristina, 10, spoke publicly for the first time since their father's death, expressing their gratitude to the law enforcement community and everyone who had supported them over the past week.

"My dad was really great. I always looked up to him. He was my hero," Kirstyn Harris said while wiping away tears. "Every morning, I would tell him I loved him, and I never knew what would happen — I never thought this would happen. I thought nothing could happen in such a small community. I was wrong. I hate being wrong."

The Harris' LDS bishop, Eric Esplin, said some of the toughest questions he's had to answer over the past week were from Brian Harris' daughters: "Who will take me to daddy-daughter day at school? Did Heavenly Father really need my dad more than us? Who will drive my dad's derby car?"

Shawna Harris said it was extremely hard for her to stand and speak on Friday, but she felt compelled to tell everyone in the audience how much she loved them, especially law enforcement.

"Your call of duty is above and beyond what it should be, and we thank you for it," she said. "All officers who put their lives on hold for four days while looking for the man who caused all this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"Brian left a hole in this community. This hole in our hearts will forever remain empty. There is no one out there who can replace him."

Friday's service was attended by residents from all over Kane County and Fredonia, Ariz. The parking lot was filled bumper-to-bumper with police vehicles from both large and small agencies. The names on the vehicles read like a geography lesson of Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho. Officers from La Verkin, St. George, Nephi, Duchesne, Lone Peak, Big Water, Boise, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Santa Clara, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Parowan, Casa Grande, Provo, Salt Lake City and Weber were just a few of those in attendance. Two officers from Chicago also made the trip to southern Utah to pay their respects.

After a morning viewing was over, Harris' casket, draped with an American flag, was rolled out of the auditorium and into the main gymnasium. Kane County Sheriff Lamonte Smith walked in front of the coffin. Behind it were 150 to 200 family members and law enforcers who had worked closest with Harris, including people from the Kane County Sheriff's Office; Kanab Police Department; Arizona Department of Public Safety; Utah Highway Patrol; Fredonia, Ariz., marshal; Page, Ariz., police; the Division of Natural Resources; and the Iron County Sheriff's Office. After the services ended, it took half an hour for those paying their respects just to get out of the school parking lot.

Despite the large crowd, much of Friday's funeral service felt like a gathering of close friends, all there to swap their favorite Brian Harris stories.

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