OREGON CITY, Ore. - Law enforcement officials, and the community at large, showed up in force on Thursday to pay their respects to a reserve police officer who lost his life in the line of duty.
Officer Rob Libke, 41, was shot in the face Nov. 3 while responding to a house fire. He initially survived the shooting, but later died at the hospital.
The suspect, 88-year-old Lawrence Cambra, was shot at the scene during a confrontation with SWAT officers. He then shot himself in the chest, ending his life.
Libke's death stunned the community and left his fellow law enforcement officers grieving the loss of one of their own. On Thursday, they joined thousands of people from around the state and beyond to honor his memory.
A large motorcade procession made its way through the city Thursday morning, followed by a Celebration of Life memorial at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
During the service, the Oregon City Police Department awarded Officer Robert Libke the Medal of Valor, a Purple Heart, a Distinguished Service Medal and the Chief's Medal of Merit.
And we heard parting thoughts from those who were close to Libke. The following video clip is a portion of the service where letters from family and friends were read to the crowd (note: the audio is low so turn up your speakers):
"When a policemen dies, that's really sad"
Even strangers who did not know Officer Robert Libke could not help but feel the loss.
"I just came out here to pay my respects to the people that protect us," an onlooker who watched the motorcade procession, told us. "And coming out here and seeing the flag hanging in the street - I'm not an emotional person, but it really touched my heart."Timelapse of the procession as seen from an I-84 overpass (courtesy John Eklund)For first responders, Libke's death is a reminder that their jobs can be dangerous.
"It definitely makes you realize that it could be you someday," an American Medical Response paramedic told us. "And we're a close family. It doesn't matter if it's police, fire or EMT - it's still heart wrenching."
Another onlooker, Sandy Land, told us her son-in-law is a police officer and her daughter is going to be one. She said seeing something like this happen frightens her.
"It's scary," Land said. "Every time you hear something on the news, you wonder if they are involved."
At Cascade Heights Public Charter School in Southeast Portland, teachers brought students outside to watch the procession go by.
"We just went right out to the fence and let them watch," said Holly Denman, the school's director. "And as they were watching, the teachers had a chance to talk to them about what they were seeing and why, and help them understand what was going on."
"I think it was just perfect what happened," said student Shak Saidjanov. "A cop gets killed in the line of action and that's what they should do."
"When a policemen dies, that's really sad," said student Adrienne Cole. "Because they help protect our community. And I appreciate them in our community because there are all these bad people just riding around and then the police get them."Hear what the students had to say about the procession
'God bless to Officer Libke, his wife and unborn child'
Libke had been a reserve officer for the Oregon City Police Department since 2009. He leaves behind a wife, who is pregnant. We posted a photo on Facebook of Libke and his wife, Wendy, on their wedding day and asked folks to share their condolences. Here are some of the comments we received:
"Very touching. Thank you Officer Libke for your sacrifice. May his family find comfort today as our city, community reaches out to hold them close." - Tracy Bishop-Yerman
"Prayers go out to his wife and other family and friends. May the lord watch over his wife and unborn child in these darkest times. God Bless him." - Kari Loucks-Totten
"Much respect for a man to give his life in the service of others. Much more respect because he did it for FREE! RIP Officer Libke." - Rick Dixon
"Thank you for your service!! May god be with your family in this time of need. You are truly a HERO!!" - Heather Fuller
"This is such a sad day. God bless to Officer Libke, his wife and unborn child. The support is so overwhelming." - June Perry
"Lived like a Hero and Died A HERO Rest in Paradise." - Mohamad Matar
KATU Reporter Lincoln Graves, KATU Reporter Matt Johnson, KATU Reporter Mary Loos, KATU Reporter Stephen Meyer and KATU Photojournalist Monty Orrick contributed to this report.