AKRON -- A thin blue line of hundreds of police officers from across the state of Ohio gathered at the University of Akron on Saturday morning to pay tribute to one of their own, Akron Police Patrolman Justin Winebrenner.
The 32-year-old Winebrenner was shot to death early last Sunday when he and two other men confronted a gunman causing a disturbance in a crowded tavern near closing time.
Fraternal Order of Police President Paul Hlynsky told the mourners who packed James A. Rhodes Arena, "in the end, he gave his life for others. There is no excuse for this terrible tragedy, and we're going to hurt for a long time, because we did lose one of our own and it is personal."
Among the loved ones Justin Winebrenner leaves behind is his four-year-old daughter, Charlee Ayn.
Akron's police chief says he and Justin Winebrenner's father, himself a retired police officer, now intend to seek tougher gun control laws in the name of Charlee Ayn's father.
Chief James Nice told the audience, "and try to make this place safer for the community, for future officers."
As Justin Winebrenner’s casket was carried by his fellow officers from the campus of his beloved University of Akron to his final resting place, his daughter and the hundreds of police officers saluted their hero, with the words of the child's God father still echoing across the campus.
According to Chuck Parsons, Winebrenner would tell his daughter, "I'll never be far from you, I'm now your guardian angel, and I will listen to you any time you need a loving ear."
In a day filled with so much emotion, one of the most touching moments came when the funeral procession passed the Akron Police Department and the city's police memorial.
Akron residents wept as the procession stopped in front of the station and allowed the police force to say goodbye to their fallen comrade on his final roll call.
Those who stood in the cold rain say they are trying to send a message to family of Justin Winebrenner.
Tamara Cummings told Fox 8, "that we're with you in this, you know we feel your pain and whatever we can do to support you, this is definitely one of those life changing, defining moments."
Residents also lined the streets of Waterloo Road as the slain officer’s hearse arrived at Holy Cross Cemetery. In the tradition of American heroes and patriots, Justin Winebrenner's remains were escorted by a horse without a rider.
Those who paid their final respects to Patrolman Winebrenner, say the footprints left in the sand by the fallen officer will not be forgotten.
Olivia Urdiales told Fox 8, "I hope it shows the sacrifice they make for us, and to keep people safe."