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Hickory Hills Police Officer Michael Franks salutes Wednesday as the family of slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French is driven south on Harlem Avenue through Summit and Bridgeview. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Hickory Hills Police Officer Michael Franks salutes Wednesday as the family of slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French is driven south on Harlem Avenue through Summit and Bridgeview. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Paying respect to slain CPD Officer Ella French

By Steve Metsch

A 100 or so people paid their respects to the family of slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French on Wednesday afternoon, standing along Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview.

Residents and police officers from Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Willow Springs and other suburbs quietly stood on the west side of the street near Niko’s Banquet Hall.

The family was driven south on Harlem by Chicago police from the Stevenson Expressway to 79th Street on their way to Officer French’s visitation Wednesday evening at St. Rita Shrine Chapel at St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago.

Her funeral mass is set to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at the church.

French was shot to death last week during a traffic stop in Chicago Lawn.

Although the swift procession was over in moments, there were no complaints voiced about waiting on a muggy afternoon.

“It’s a shame,” said Susan Herkel, 61, of Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood, as she fought back tears. “Chicago is losing too many of their police officers.”

“I have a lot of friends who are police officers, and they are just scared for their lives,” Herkel said. “Mayor Lightfoot needs to step up and do something.”

Her mother, Marie Wurtz, 86, said, “I think it’s terrible. I feel sorry for the families.”

Willow Springs Police Chief Jim Ritz was impressed by the turnout.

Ritz noted the strong suburban connection with Officer French who, as a girl, attended Gross School in Brookfield and Riverside-Brookfield High School.

“I feel so, so sad for the city of Chicago and its police officers,” Ritz said.

Bridgeview resident Armando Martinez, 56, came “to show respect for the police officer.” He regretted forgetting his American flag at home.

“It’s bad, really bad,” he said when asked about the danger police officers face every day.

“She was a young officer, too,” he added.

Martinez’ wife, Cynthia Velasquez, 52, said, “It’s a shame what police go through … This is senseless, senseless. They didn’t have to shoot her.”

A seven-year Hickory Hills Police Officer, Michael Franks, 35, declined comment. Instead, he gave a crisp salute to the passing vehicles carrying French family members en route to St. Rita.

Several children were in the crowd.

Theo Sanchez, 32, of Bridgeview, brought his two daughters, who are in the fifth and fourth grades.

“I want them to understand the importance of family,” said Sanchez, who called French’s death “tragic.”

“I have family on the (police) force and I can’t imagine having to go through this,” Sanchez said. “For her and her family, I feel terrible.”

dvn bridgeview salutes french

Susan Herkel (right) and her mother, Marie Wurtz, are heartbroken by the murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

1 Comment

  1. Debbie on August 19, 2021 at 8:35 am

    May she RIP. My heart breaks for all the people.



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