PORTLAND Slate gray skies reflected a somber mood Thursday as thousands marshaled through Portland streets in a moving display of community unity honoring an Oregon City reserve officer killed in the line of duty.
Headed by over 60 motorcycle police, hundreds of law enforcement officers from as far as Chicago, San Diego and Boise joined families and friends in a procession for Robert Libke, 41, who was shot to death on Nov. 5.
Onlookers holding a phalanx of American flags and signs with messages like, Thank you, officer Libke, packed freeway overpasses and surface streets to watch an estimated 1,000 vehicles make their way to Libke's 'Celebration of Life' service in Portland.
One firefighting company stood on top of their truck and covered their hearts as the procession passed.
Police wore black ribbons honoring their fallen comrade across their badges.
Libke, a volunteer reserve police officer, died after he was allegedly shot by 88-year-old Lawrence Cambra. Libke was responding to a house fire in Oregon City when he was killed. He was the first Oregon City officer to die in the line of duty since 1906.
Background: Officer in Oregon City house fire shooting dies
Those gathered noted that the fact that Libke was a volunteer struck a particularly stirring cord. Others stated that Libke s life made them appreciate the dangers that police face in their duty to protect the public.
We all get to go home to our families tonight, but officer Libke doesn't, said one officer. It makes you appreciate what you have.
As vehicles traversed the 21-mile procession route from Clackamas Community College in Oregon City to Memorial Coliseum in Portland, drivers pulled off the road and got out of their vehicles to pay their respects and watch the powerful display of solidarity.
It's important to pay your respects, said Chris Keller of the Patriot Guard Riders. The riders lined the sidewalks of Memorial Coliseum holding American flags on lance-like poles. [We're here] to honor someone who has put their lives on the line to protect us.
Libke's Celebration of Life began at 1 p.m. inside Memorial Coliseum.
Libke will posthumously receive the state of Oregon's highest honor, the Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice. KGW will cover officer Libke s Celebration of Life on a live stream