In the glare of the harsh morning sunlight, they came, one by one, to silently pay their respect to a Chandler police officer killed in the line of duty April 29.
Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar, 50, was struck and killed by the driver of a stolen vehicle who was fleeing law enforcement. From shooting at Pinal County Sheriff’s officers to driving on the wrong side of the freeway and crashing through a gate at Chandler Regional Airport, then tearing through a car dealership, it was a wild night that ended in tragedy.
Within hours, a growing makeshift memorial sprang up in the plaza in front of the downtown Chandler Police Department headquarters, where two life-size statues representing law-enforcement officers have long been displayed near the entrance. Chandler residents began piling bouquets of flowers there in the aftermath of the officer’s death.
Brenda Bishop came with her son, Noah, 5, to teach him about the value of respecting police officers.
“Twenty years ago, I got a DUI and the police officer literally saved my life and probably other members of society, too,” Bishop said.
“So every year when I pick up a sobriety coin, I also come and thank the police.”
Bishop said she wants her son to appreciate the sacrifice made by officers like the one who saved her life.
“We love police officers,” Bishop said.
Carmela Mardies brushed away tears as she placed an arrangement of sunflowers at the feet of the police officer statue.
“It just saddens me. They protect us and they’re always here for us,” Mardies said.
“It was just senseless. It was a horrible thing and my heart goes out to his family. Can you imagine getting that knock on the door?”
Mardies said she appreciates the Chandler Police Department and is thankful that a year ago, they came to her defense. She was on her way to work before sunrise when a car with out-of-state license plates began following her. Mardies said she called Chandler Police and led her pursuer straight to the parking lot of the Police Department where the man pursuing her was immediately surrounded by officers.
“They helped me,” Mardies said of the officers’ actions that day. “(The man chasing her) didn’t know I was coming here.”
Lori Wagner brought flowers to the memorial to show her appreciation for those who risk their lives to defend the public, she said.
“I would not want to be a police officer today with today’s climate. It’s a no-win situation for them,” Wagner said.
“This is a small gesture to let this family know that we’re thinking of them.”