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A final tribute to slain Riverside police Officer Michael Crain

Thousands attend the funeral for Crain, an 11-year veteran officer who was shot and killed in an ambush blamed on Christopher Dorner, the fugitive former LAPD officer.

February 13, 2013|By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
  • Riverside police officers salute as the casket carrying slain Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain is carried to a memorial service at Riverside National Cemetery.
Riverside police officers salute as the casket carrying slain Riverside… (Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles…)

Regina Crain cherished the simplicity of Sunday mornings with her husband, Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain.

He loved food, and every weekend — even when their two young children asked her to cook something else — she made his favorite breakfast: eggs, bacon and, most importantly, hash browns. He loved his hash browns.

Regina always let him sleep in while she cooked, and she'd send the kids to wake him.

Those are the times she will miss the most, Regina Crain said Wednesday, fighting tears, during the funeral for her husband in the Grove Community Church in Riverside.

PHOTOS: Funeral for Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain

Michael Crain, 34, was shot and killed in an ambush before dawn Feb. 7 as he and an officer he was training stopped their marked patrol car at a traffic light at Magnolia and Arlington avenues in Riverside, police said. The other officer, who has not been identified, was injured.

Police have said the suspected gunman is Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer bent on revenge over his dismissal from the department in 2009.

Although Dorner's name was not uttered by the speakers at Crain's funeral, the anger at the slaying of Crain and three others was tangible.

WHO THEY WERE: Victims in the Dorner case

Standing outside the church, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Reynolds said law enforcement officers have been deeply affected by the deaths.

"Any time one of us is out there and meets a tragic end, it hits us all hard. We all feel the pain," Reynolds said.

As the funeral procession approached the church, it passed beneath an enormous U.S. flag hanging from the ladders of two Riverside firetrucks. Mary Ann Taylor, who lives down the street from the church, pointed to the police cars filing past, then told her twin 4-year-old granddaughters: "Put your hands over your hearts; show some respect for them."

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Inside, officers spoke of the anger and confusion left in the wake of slayings attributed to Dorner, including the death Tuesday of San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah MacKay, 35, who perished in what has been described as a final, desperate shootout with the fugitive. MacKay, a 15-year veteran of the department, was married and had a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son.

A second San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy, Alex Collins, also was wounded in the gunfight, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said. Collins has undergone multiple surgeries but is expected to make a full recovery, he said.

Riverside Capt. John Wallace told mourners he was sure that if Crain were present, he would be asking the audience to pray for MacKay, who "came across the same evil" that Crain did.

Thousands attended Crain's service, including Gov. Jerry Brown and hundreds of uniformed law enforcement officers representing agencies from across the state.

Family, friends and fellow officers described the 11-year veteran officer as a soft-spoken man, a skilled officer and a doting father to his two children, Ian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 4. He was known to tell friends he couldn't believe how lucky he was in marrying Regina.

While other people talked about having good relationships, "I felt mine was perfect," Regina Crain said.

"Every day got better," she said, after tearfully reading the couple's wedding vows. "Every day we renewed our love. I knew how much he loved me and how much he loved those babies."

She said her husband went to his daughter's ballet classes and danced with her. Although he never played baseball, he learned the game so he could coach his son's team, she said.

Crain was a member of the Riverside Police Department's SWAT team and served as a field training officer and as a firearms instructor, according to the department.

He was the "ideal policeman," said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, who has called the attack that killed Crain a "cowardly ambush."

"I think we hoped that we could clone him several times over," Diaz said.

The chief addressed Crain's children, saying their father was known to be tough.

"Because he was tough, he knew he could be kind and gentle," Diaz said, choking up as he spoke.

Before joining the police department, Crain served as a rifleman in the Marine Corps. He was deployed twice to Kuwait, according to Riverside police. Friends and other Marines described Crain as a dedicated and talented Marine who watched one video at a recruiting office and was hooked.

Joe Negroni, who has been friends with Crain since they were in seventh grade, said he was struck by Crain's empathy and generosity, even when Crain was just a teenager.

Negroni said Crain was a "creature of habit" who ordered the same school lunch every day: a hamburger, Cherry Pepsi and his favorite chocolate doughnuts.

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