Fellow police officers show solidarity

Hundreds pay their respects at Smithsburg officer's funeral

Hundreds pay their respects at Smithsburg officer's funeral

December 26, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - About 600 police officers from across Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania attended the funeral Monday of Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson, who died Dec. 19 in the line of duty.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said invitations were sent to police departments from as far away as the Midwest.

"We don't know how many to expect, but it will draw officers from a wide area," Mullendore said Monday before the funeral.

When an officer dies in the line of duty, broadcasts about the death are sent nationwide. Most of the officers who attend the funeral do not know the slain officer, but come to represent their police departments and to show solidarity with other officers, Mullendore said.

Nicholson, 25, of Sharpsburg, was fatally shot while waiting for backup Wednesday night on Welty Church Road in Smithsburg. Douglas Wayne Pryor was charged in Nicholson's death, as well as in the stabbing death of Pryor's former girlfriend, Alison Munson, in her Halfway apartment.


Nicholson's funeral, which was in the auditorium at Williamsport High School, drew police and fire and rescue personnel from across the state, as well as local and state elected officials. Gov. Martin O'Malley attended and spoke during the eulogy.

Mullendore said "numerous" planning sessions were held to coordinate Monday's funeral, which is the first for a fallen officer in Washington County since December 1975, when off-duty Hagerstown Police Officer Donald R. Kline was killed during a gunbattle with an armed robber.

"This is one of the most important things we can do for our fellow officers, and it's an honor for everyone involved," Mullendore said.

Officers began the service by marching into the auditorium and giving Nicholson's casket a final salute.

After the service, officers lined both sides of the road from the high school to nearby Greenlawn Memorial Park. The procession was led by a bagpipe band of local firefighters and included four honor guards, a motorcycle brigade and one vehicle from each participating agency.

Trucks from Williamsport and Long Meadow fire companies stood sentinel at the gate to Greenlawn Memorial Park. Their ladders were crossed over the entrance and an American flag hung between them.

At the burial, the bagpipe band played "Amazing Grace," and the Hagerstown Police Department rifle squad fired a 21-gunshot salute.

A last call was made, whereby Nicholson's unit was called several times over the radio, followed by a call of "10-42," or "ending tour of duty."

The service concluded with a flyover by Maryland State Police.

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