In a sea of sorrow, Wesley Strowmatt somehow made people laugh Monday night during a vigil for slain St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder.
Strowmatt spoke of how angry he was last week when he heard that it was Snyder who had been shot and killed in the line of duty.
“I was angry, and I’m not one to get angry,” Strowmatt said while standing on the track at West Elementary School. “But, oh was I angry. There are only a couple of times in my life that I’ve been that angry. Come to think of it, the only other times that I’ve been that angry, Blake was involved.”
His line brought some laughs to a crowd that had gathered to remember Snyder.
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Snyder, 33, was shot after responding to a call just after 5 a.m. on Thursday. Police say Snyder was was shot in the chin once and later died at a St. Louis hospital. He leaves behind a wife and a 2-year-old son.
On Monday, his former classmates at Alton High School decided to gather and remember their classmate. Snyder grew up in Godfrey and was a 2001 Alton High School graduate. Hundreds of people helped fill the stands to remember Snyder, who spent four years with the St. Louis County Police Department. They released balloons and stood quietly for a candlelight vigil as the field lights were turned off for part of the ceremony.
Strowmatt was one of Snyder’s friends who spoke to the crowd. He fought back tears while talking about Snyder. He said that he heard about the shooting while getting for work on Thursday morning and had sent Snyder a text. He said he wasn’t too concerned when he didn’t hear back from Snyder. When the news broke that it was Snyder who had been shot and killed, Strowmatt said he sat and cried in his office.
“My day, my week, my life was changed with one phone call,” Strowmatt said. “Blake, my friend of 20 years, my teammate and my brother from another mother, (was) gone with no warning, just like that.”
The father of the man accused of killing Snyder spoke out to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, telling the newspaper “there are no excuses for what my son did.”
“I am a Christian man and I believe in the sanctity of life, and what my son did is inexcusable,” Bill Forster, 49, of St. Louis County, told the newspaper. “My heart bleeds for the family of Officer Snyder. I’m not looking to make excuses for my son. There are no excuses for what my son did. Now, I have to let the justice system do what the system does. I can’t defend what Trenton did. The reality is, I lost my son not two days ago, but a long time before that.”
Forster told the Post-Dispatch that his son, Trenton, has battled substance abuse problems since he was 14 years old. Trenton Forster, 18, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with Snyder’s death on Thursday morning.
A visitation for Snyder will be later in the week. It is scheduled for 4-9 p.m. Wednesday at Kutis Funeral Home, 101051 Gravois, in St. Louis. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at Family Church, 17458 Chesterfield Airport Road, in Chesterfield, Mo. Following the service, internment will be at Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.
There is a call for supporters to line the street at 12 p.m. Thursday from Clifton Terrace to Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.
On Monday afternoon, St. County Police announced that Snyder’s funeral procession will enter Highway 40 east to Interstate 270 North to Highway 367 North toward Alton. It will continue to Route 100 to Clifton Terrace Road and turn right on to Clifton Terrace Road. It will then go down Illinois Route 3 to Valhalla Memorial Park.