Fallen Bloomingdale police officer remembered as 'Sweet Baby Ray'

  • The flag-draped casket of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell is carried to the funeral coach Wednesday at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago. More than 1,000 people attended services for the 27-year-old officer who was killed Jan. 19 in a one-car crash.

    The flag-draped casket of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell is carried to the funeral coach Wednesday at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago. More than 1,000 people attended services for the 27-year-old officer who was killed Jan. 19 in a one-car crash. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The mother of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell, Mary L. Aguero, is joined by police officers from across the region as she mourns the loss of her son.

    The mother of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell, Mary L. Aguero, is joined by police officers from across the region as she mourns the loss of her son. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell was killed in the line of duty while responding to a crime in progress on Jan. 19.

    Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell was killed in the line of duty while responding to a crime in progress on Jan. 19. Courtesy of Bloomingdale Police Department

 
 
Updated 1/25/2017 7:11 PM

Raymond Murrell gave his dad a book he wrote for Father's Day almost two decades ago.

Then 10 years old, Murrell scribbled some pictures of palm trees and father and son lifting weights. He also left a message of thanks.

 

"I'm glad that you love me enough to let me choose any dreams," the youngster wrote.

For his son's funeral Wednesday morning, Anthony Murrell wrote his own letter. He couldn't bring himself to read it, but he asked Raymond's aunt to share his words at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago.

Anthony Murrell wrote about how proud he was of his son, who relentlessly pursued his dreams of becoming a Bloomingdale police officer. He wrote about how his son supported him in the "low moments," when Raymond Murrell wouldn't ask questions and wouldn't pass judgment.

"I remember you telling me, 'Hey dad, I got your back. Don't worry, I got your back,'" Anthony Murrell wrote.

That was Raymond Murrell. A loyal 27-year-old who still considered his high school classmates his best friends. A man who helped raise his niece as if she was his own daughter.

"Under his thick skin was a human being who enjoyed life to the fullest," friend Eddie Gutierrez said.

That charisma earned him the nickname "Sweet Baby Ray" around the Bloomingdale Police Department.

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"This kid made such an impact on us and our entire community," Chief Frank Giammarese told his family.

Murrell was killed Jan. 19 when his police SUV crashed into a pole and utility box at Army Trail Road and Cardinal Avenue. He was responding on wet and slippery streets to a reported retail theft at a business on Army Trail.

Police officers console each other Wednesday as they mourn the passing of fellow officer Raymond Murrell.
Police officers console each other Wednesday as they mourn the passing of fellow officer Raymond Murrell. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

More than 1,000 mourners, many of them law enforcement officers from across the suburbs and even Mishawaka, Indiana, attended the funeral to pay tribute to Murrell, who would have celebrated a year on the force in March.

Murrell previously worked for the Cook County sheriff's department and in security. He had jobs at a photo studio and as a greeter at an Applebee's. He once washed cars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So when he finally got the interview for the job he dreamed about since he was 6 years old, Murrell was persistent.

"I want to be a Bloomingdale police officer," he told Giammarese.

"We got a good guy here," the chief thought.

A memorial card for fallen Bloomingdale officer Raymond Murrell rests on the windshield of a Bloomingdale police vehicle outside at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago.
A memorial card for fallen Bloomingdale officer Raymond Murrell rests on the windshield of a Bloomingdale police vehicle outside at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The Addison native, who graduated from the College of DuPage police academy with distinction, was credited with helping save a man's life even before he officially started the job. Murrell was enrolled in the department's field training program when he and another officer used a defibrillator on the man, who was suffering a heart attack.

As an uncle, he helped raise his niece, Mia, mentored her, taught her how to ride a bike and took her to dances. If he had his way, she wouldn't date until she was 30, her mom and Murrell's sister, Antoinette Williams, told the gathering.

"You were the best uncle in the world to her," she said.

His Bloomingdale co-workers filled the pews behind Murrell's family. Stoic before the service, they left the church in tears.

Police officers salute the casket of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell after a service Wednesday at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago.
Police officers salute the casket of Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrell after a service Wednesday at Wheaton Bible Church near West Chicago. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

A funeral procession of about 1,000 police and fire vehicles then headed to Murrell's final resting place in Oakridge-Glen Oaks Cemetery in Hillside.

At the grave, a large crowd of friends, family and police officers gathered for a brief service. Before leading mourners in a prayer, a speaker called Murrell a "true hero."

"We long for real heroes, and we have one here," he said.

Murrell was buried in his police uniform.

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