By Tim Prudente and Catherine Rentz The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — The bagpipes began, the crowd hushed and hundreds of police officers rose Friday morning in a rustle of dress blues. Black bands shrouded their badges as they watched the casket pass by holding the body of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio.
They watched the police pallbearers push her flag-draped casket into Mountain Christian Church in Joppa. More than 1,000 people came for the funeral of the first Baltimore County policewoman killed in the line of duty.
On Sunday, Caprio would have celebrated her 30th birthday.
Her life was just beginning, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told the crowd. He said she was killed in a heinous crime.
Caprio was called Monday afternoon to investigate a suspicious car in a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac in Perry Hall. There she allegedly was run down and fatally injured by a 16-year-old from West Baltimore in a stolen Jeep. Dawnta Harris’ lawyers said the teen was scared and trying to drive away. He is charged with murder and held without bail.
Three other teens who went with him, police said, to allegedly burglarize homes in the suburbs also are charged with murder. All are scheduled to appear in court next week.
The sudden and senseless killing left Caprio’s family and fellow officers grasping for answers. The night before her funeral, the Rev. Luke Erickson searched for the words to comfort them. He wrote her eulogy.
“When you know it’s coming, your body has time to prepare,” he said. “We didn’t have that. Not only was a life cut short, there was no time.”
By Friday morning, black and blue balloons dotted the road off the highway to the church. A police helicopter circled overhead. Families spread blankets on the roadside, bringing flags and homemade signs — H.E.R.O. — to wave for the funeral procession. Firetrucks and ambulances lined the ramps to the highway. People crowded the overpasses on Interstate 95 — a community emerging to honor her as the hearse passed by.
Inside the church, a guitar broke the quiet. The crowd was invited to join in an old folk song popularized by the Byrds:
“To everything (turn, turn, turn),
“There is a season (turn, turn, turn),
“And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”
I was humbled to speak at the funeral service of Officer First Class Amy Caprio, the first female Baltimore County police officer ever killed in the line of duty. Her impact on her community and the legacy she leaves behind will be as lasting as her years on this earth were brief pic.twitter.com/3AygdLMz9c
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) May 25, 2018
Caprio’s family requested the song, the pastor said. So he opened his Bible and read from the Book of Ecclesiastes, where the lyrics came from.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to be born and a time to die … a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
The pastor told the crowd the Scripture holds a promise. After this time for mourning, there will be time for hope, he said. The grief may last for weeks, months, years — a season, he said. But one day will come a time of renewal.
They listened in silence and some cried. Four of Caprio’s fellow officers told the crowd of her promising career. As the precinct’s Officer of the Month in March, she nabbed a pair of alleged package thieves after investigating shipping boxes strewn along the roadside.
They spoke of her blue eyes and of sharing pizzas on the hood of patrol cars. They spoke of her loyalty to the Pittsburgh Steelers, of her days playing soccer, of her fondness for Harry Potter, and how she never turned down a call for a lost dog.
Her own dog was named Doodle.
A graduate of Loch Raven High School and Towson University, Caprio would have celebrated her fourth year as a Baltimore County police officer in July.
Condolences have poured in from around the world, her chief told the funeral crowd. Baltimore County Police Chief Terry Sheridan said he received calls from the White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
For all those who don’t know, my dad is a cop and worked with officer Amy Caprio. This is deadass sad to listen to. R.I.P and thank you for your service???? pic.twitter.com/PF9lHYi998
— oHokez (@oHokez) May 25, 2018
Caprio was the 10th officer killed in the 144-year history of the county police department. She was the first officer to die in the line of duty since Jason Schneider was gunned down while serving an arrest warrant in Catonsville five years ago.
His father, Charles Schneider, watched Caprio’s funeral procession. Online he wrote, “Jay and Amy didn’t know each other in life, but sadly they know each other now.”
His hands shaking, Tim Caprio stepped before the crowd Friday, took a deep breath, and addressed those who came to mourn his wife’s killing. He didn’t think he could find the strength to speak, he told everyone. Then he reflected and decided his wife would want him to “grow a pair of cojones.”
The crowd laughed.
He spoke in stops and starts. But his voice was firm when he said his wife made him a better man. She thought of him as “her project.”
They laughed again.
He said she loved animals so much that she would ask him to skip the scene in “The Lion King” when Mufasa was killed. Again, they laughed.
Then he said he loved her; she would be his wife forever.
The funeral procession — hundreds of police cars, motorcycles, civilians — stretched more than five miles. They arrived at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens cemetery; police and firefighters from across Maryland and beyond lined the entrance.
Thank you for your service, @BACOPoliceFire Officer #AmyCaprio. Your husband and mom were symbols of your strength. Your friends and co-workers spoke highly. God rest your soul. And thank you to the community for honoring her. pic.twitter.com/joNDKChm22
— T.J. Smith (@TJSmithMedia) May 25, 2018
Caprio was the 72nd police officer or firefighter buried in the gardens since 1977. The last one was Sean Suiter, the Baltimore City police detective who was shot and killed six months ago.
Gayle Duncan, 62, stood under a shade tree across the street. She came to pay her respects to Suiter, and now to Caprio.
“Without them, this world would be in complete chaos,” she said.
Lisa Livingston, 56, had driven from Essex. Her daughter plans to become a police officer.
“This can happen to any of us,” Livingston said. “I just feel awful for the family … But it’s awful for both families — the family of the officer and the mother of the driver.”
Before them, blue uniforms filled the cemetery. When the burial ended, the crowd left and officers drove back to the streets they patrol.
A busy Memorial Day weekend was coming. The next calls awaited. Turn, turn, turn.
(The Baltimore Sun’s Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.)
©2018 The Baltimore Sun