Tired eyes burned with tears again Thursday as mourners filled a second funeral home to pay tribute to a second slain Cincinnati police officer.
A wave of blue formed once more, topped with white uniform caps, as officers lined up in front of Thompson-Hall Jordan Funeral Home in Walnut Hills.
This time, they came to honor police Spc. Ronald Jeter. But it could have been any one of them.
Earlier this week, it was Officer Daniel Pope. The partners were gunned down late Friday while trying to serve an arrest warrant in Clifton Heights. The shooter, Alonzo Davenport, 20, turned the gun on himself moments later.
''This one has had time to sink in,'' said Bill Peltier, a retired Hamilton County sheriff's deputy who comforted Deputy Vonda Ingram in an embrace. ''You don't want to be alone.''
With handshakes across aisles in the visitation line and pats on the back in the parking lot, officers found comfort in numbers and with simple touches.
They filled the Kroger parking lot across the street, and buses shuttled hundreds of friends and strangers who wanted to say goodbye. Deputies and detectives, chiefs and civilians, came from across the Tristate. They stood in a cramped hallway as they twisted through the corded-off line.
''There's a lot of comforting,'' police spokesman Lt. Tim Schoch said. ''People are trying to express their feelings a little more. As time goes on, more people are going to open up.''
Their voices were less hushed than at Officer Pope's visitation on Tuesday. Mourners began talking out their pain in a room that smelled of fresh flowers. Some sat in pews in front of the casket and prayed. Others continued conversations under gray skies outside.
Police mounted officers ride beneath fire division ladders raised in honor of Spc. Jeter in front of the funeral home.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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Sgt. Sylvia Ranaghan, a former District 5 supervisor who worked with the two slain officers, had minor surgery last week and should have been off work. But she couldn't keep herself away.
''I can't be at home,'' she said. ''I need to be around all my guys. I believe in God and everything, but this is so hard. We keep hugging each other saying, 'One more day.' One more day, then we can all start healing.''
Today, colleagues will travel to Columbus, for Spc. Jeter's funeral at Rhema Christian Center.
The 34-year-old made his home in Oakley after joining the police force in 1993. The former Marine loved weightlifting and left a book of Shakespeare in his car at District 5.
Fellow District 5 officers huddled in the line to view Spc. Jeter's open casket. Some broke down in sobs. One sergeant touched a hand to another officer's shoulder and held it there.
Funeral on TV
Three TV stations - WLWT, WKRC and WCPO - plan live broadcasts of the funeral of Spc. Ronald Jeter at 1:45 p.m. today from Columbus.
WLWT (Channel 5) begins continuous coverage at noon.
WCPO (Channel 9) and WKRC (Channel 12) expect to start broadcasting from Columbus at 1:30 p.m.
The service may exceed two hours.
Officials such as Mayor Roxanne Qualls expressed their condolences to family and friends, and limousines carrying Spc. Jeter's mother, Brenda Collier, and other family members were greeted by sympathetic crowds.
Schoolchildren watched from their bus Thursday afternoon as they passed the funeral home. They pointed to two fire trucks that crossed their aerial ladders over Gilbert Avenue to form a tunnel for cars to pass through. Mounted patrol horses clip-clopped underneath a black-and-purple flag of mourning as officers directed traffic.
''I've never seen so many grown men cry as I have this week,'' Sgt. Ranaghan said. ''In our office, we're walking around in a daze. We're doing our job, but it's tough.''
As a cold rain fell late Thursday night, a steady stream of people continued to show up - many officers who came after ending their shifts, others everyday citizens who thanked them for doing a tough job.
Lisa Donovan and John Hopkins contributed to this report.
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