A flurry of white doves and the strains of “Amazing Grace” greeted fallen police Officer Blake Snyder as hundreds of police officers, loved ones and members of the community turned out to honor him at his funeral.
The funeral service began at 11 a.m. in Chesterfield, Mo. Police officers filled the church, and residents lined the route of the funeral procession. Giant flags, signs reading “thank you” and first-responders by the hundreds turned out across St. Louis, with a mile-long procession that stretched across the city.
The funeral procession then rolled from Chesterfield to Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in Godfrey. Every highway overpass from the church to Godfrey was covered in flags and signs honoring Snyder, according to news reports, and in many places traffic stopped and people got out of their cars to honor him.
Along the path of the procession in Godfrey, some residents hung American flags or blue ribbons, while others lined the streets and a motorcycle honor guard lined the road in front of the cemetery before the service.
Even as the ceremony began, police cars from across the region continued flooding in, with more officers in dress uniforms lining up in formation beside the grave. They stood at attention and saluted as the pallbearers carried Officer Snyder’s coffin to the grave.
The graveside ceremony was brief, with a reading from the Gospel of John. Bagpipers played “Taps” as the flag was removed from the coffin, folded in triangular form and given to the family. The officers stood in salute again as a four-officer squad fired three shots and several helicopters flew over the ceremony.
St. Louis County Police then played a roll call “end of watch” over the radio, declaring that they were forever grateful to have served with Snyder, and that his sacrifice would never be forgotten. At the end of the ceremony, they released 33 doves - one for each year of Snyder’s life - with one more dove bearing a black feather over its heart. They circled over the ceremony and disappeared into the surrounding woods.
Snyder, 33, was shot after responding to a call just after 5 a.m. last 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. He had served with the St. Louis County Police Department for four years.
Snyder grew up in Godfrey and graduated from Alton High School in 2001, settling in Edwardsville. There was a memorial vigil in Alton on Monday night to remember him. After his friends and classmates shared their memories, they released balloons and stood in a silent candlelight vigil.
Trenton Forster, 18, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with Snyder’s death.