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Community members gather outside funeral to show support for fallen officer

ROME, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Not even an overflow viewing area in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Rome was enough to accommodate the crowds that gathered for Syracuse Police Officer Michael Jensen’s funeral.

Hundreds stayed outside, including police officers from departments located all across New York.

Many of those who gathered outside didn’t know Officer Jensen. Their message: they just had to be here.

“We’re lifelong Romans. I just don’t have the words for it. It’s a tragedy,” Peter Spina said.

“I was shocked when I heard two Syracuse area officers were shot and killed in the line of duty, and then the next day we hear one was from Rome. So, it hits even closer to Rome,” Peter’s wife, Debbie Spina, said.

Down the street, Rome resident Terrie Johnson stood sobbing, holding a ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag. She hurried out of work to stand hours outside the church to show her support.

“I just can’t imagine what these parents are going through right now,” Johnson said.

She may not fully understand, but Johnson knows sacrifice. She said her son lost his legs in Iraq back in 2006 while serving this country.

“I just wanted to show my support. I couldn’t have missed this. I need the parents to know I’m in support of them. It’s horrible, just so senseless,” Johnson said.

Even suffering the effects from Ground Zero in 911 couldn’t keep former NYPD Officer Thomas Kwasnaza from being here. He now calls Otisco home and served on some local police forces before retiring due to illness.

In a wheelchair, he joined the line of other retired officers behind a grieving Syracuse Police force.

“It’s about supporting the community, the police department. This was a young man that was taken way too early. It’s happening way too often, all over the country,” Kwasnaza said.

While no one wanted to be there, no one in the crowd would miss an opportunity to honor and say goodbye to a hero.

Fallen Heroes

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