Outside of Maryville Elementary School on Friday, in Granite City, first- and second-graders released black and blue balloons into the clear sky in memory of slain St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder.
The school, where Snyder’s 6-year-old nephew Samuel Skirball is a student, used the afternoon to honor the fallen officer and his widow, Elizabeth.
Wives of Granite City Police Officers gave Elizabeth Snyder, a bracelet with the word “Mrs.”, Snyder’s identification number used when speaking on the radio, black and blue bars, and a cross.
Snyder, 33, was shot after responding to a call in October. Police say Snyder was shot in the chin once and later died at a St. Louis hospital. He had served with the St. Louis County Police Department for four years.
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Darla Bremer, a second grade teacher at the school, whose husband, Charles, is a Granite City Police sergeant, led the effort to do something for Elizabeth Snyder.
“It just really hit home when I heard what happened,” Bremer said. “I could find myself in the same situation.”
The first and second-grade students even sang a song to police officers with the refrain “Thank you for being you.”
Guests included Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, Granite City District 9 School Board President Bev Scroggins and Superintendent Jim Greenwald, who read a proclamation from Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer.
There also were members of the Granite City Police Department, St. Louis County Police and the Missouri and Illinois Railroad Police Association who presented plaques honoring Blake Snyder to Samuel.
“I think it’s really amazing and (I’m) thankful everybody is doing that for me,” Samuel said about the support he received from the school, his classmates and the community.
Hannah Skirball, Samuel’s mother, said there are several police officers in their extended family, and Samuel has always wanted to be a police officer.
“This hit him pretty hard,” Hannah Skirball said. “It hit all of us pretty hard, because he idolized Uncle Blake.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, Elizabeth Snyder, who has participated in a bald eagle release last month and other events after her husband’s death, made a brief statement.
“I just want to thank you all for everything you’ve been doing,” Elizabeth Snyder told the crowd.