Throng attends service for slain police officer
His brother called him a hero. His father spoke of his compassion. And more than 1,000 of his fellow police officers, friends and well-wishers lined the streets of Washington on Friday to honor and mourn him.
They assembled at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for the funeral of East Washington Police Department Officer David Dryer, 46, who was killed in the line of duty Sunday night.
"David, I don't know if I ever told you this, but you were my hero in eighth grade, on Dec. 18th, today and tomorrow," Dryer's brother, Dean Dryer, said during his eulogy. "I miss you, and I love you. Rest in peace, my brother."
Every pew in the church, one of the largest in the city, was filled, and officers crammed into the back and side aisles. Crowds were directed to an overflow room in the basement, where they could hear the service on speakers.
Afterward, uniformed officers from across the state stood at solemn attention as pallbearers carried Dryer's flag-draped casket from the church and police bagpipers played "Amazing Grace."
A 90-minute procession involving more than 750 private and police vehicles and motorcycles wound 11 miles to West Middleton Cemetery for Dryer's burial.
Dryer, 46, died after a man shot him during a traffic stop for expired plates along Interstate 70 in South Strabane. Officer Robert Caldwell, who provided backup, was shot in the right hand.
The gunman, Eli Franklin Myers III, who fled to his Rostraver home then came out firing after a 10-hour standoff, died from a police sharpshooter's bullet.
Caldwell, 46, said he and Dryer, of Claysville, met in first grade and became "lifelong friends."
He said Dryer put the needs of others above his own and while on the job worried about the safety of his fellow officers.
"His only thought (on Sunday night) was to warn me about what was going to happen before it happened. I am truly honored to have called David my friend," Caldwell said.
Officer Richard Joyce of the Pennsylvania Game Commission -- for whom Dryer previously was an enforcement officer -- called Dryer "the kind of man all of us parents hope our sons will grow up to be."
Dryer grew up on a farm in Avella, and his father, John, said that is where he first developed his love of animals. For the past 10 years, Dryer, who was also a veterinarian, owned and operated the Chestnut Veterinary Clinic in Washington.
"He had such total, deep compassion for people and animals," John Dryer said of his son.
Officer Dryer was an East Washington police officer for two years and before that was an officer for Donegal Township and Midway. He was certified in police K-9 training and tracking with bloodhounds, and was a longtime member of the West Middletown Fire Department.
He is survived by his son, Benjamin David Dryer, his parents, John and JoAnn Dryer, his brother Dean and a sister, Beth Nijenhuis.
"My heart is broken," Nijenhuis said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates storm back with late rally to defeat Diamondbacks, 9-4
- Steelers’ Blake prefers secondary job
- Pirates notebook: Cole scratched from rehab start at Indianapolis
- Locke’s difficulties continue thanks to old friends
- Steelers notebook: Team extends Suisham’s contract through 2018
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Rostraver police identify suspect in home invasion
- Police: Body found beneath Tarentum Bridge is jumper
- Eastern Derry VFD closes
- Connellsville loses pillar of Catholic community
- Police target 17 in Mon Valley drug investigation