Emotional day as family, friends say goodbye to Brandon Stalker
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Family members and law enforcement from across the region came together Tuesday morning to honor the life of fallen Toledo Police Officer Brandon Stalker during a funeral service at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena.
Stalker was killed in the line of duty while authorities were negotiating with a suspect on January 18. He was shot when the suspect exited a house and began firing two guns.
Among those who spoke was U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Noah Zimmerman, who said while he and Stalker weren’t related by blood, he considered them brothers. He spoke of them as a tight-knit, blended family, and Stalker was at Parris Island when Zimmerman graduated from boot camp.
“When I told Brandon I was joining the Marines, he asked, How can I help you prepare?” Zimmerman said. “When I left for boot camp, he hugged me and I saw him cry for the first time.”
Surviving Stalker is his fiancee, Ashley, and their 3-month-old son Grayson; Kennah, a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship; and his mother and father.
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz spoke about the obvious love Brandon had for his family and his job as a police officer.
“While every man dies, not every man really lives,” Kapszukiewicz said. “To really live, you have to love, you have to have that capacity for love, for what is life without love.”
Stalker was the second Toledo Police officer to die in the line of duty in six months. Officer Anthony Dia was shot and killed in front of a Home Depot on July 4 while doing a safety check on an individual.
It was also the second time in six months Toledo Police Chief George Kral had to take the stage at Savage Arena for the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty, a fact he lamented.
“It feels like I stood on this stage yesterday, talking about the line of duty death of Officer Anthony Dia,” Kral said. “I prayed to God that I would never stand on this stage again, that my police department would never endure this pain and shock again, prayed that another TPD family would never have to experience the tragic loss of a loved one.”
Kral made a special note to point out and thank the trauma team at Mercy St. Vincent’s Hospital. He also pointed out to Stalker’s family the support they are sure to receive from Toledo Police as well as the overall community in the region.
“You will have Toledo Police support in every dimension,” Kral said. “You are about to see the outpouring of support in every form from the community.”
Brad Wotring, senior pastor at Northpoint Church, read letters from members of Stalker’s family, including his fiancee Ashely, who said their love was a fairy tale-type movie love.
The service, which lasted more than one hour, ended with the final radio call for Stalker, including a message from his daughter, Kennah.
“I love you, daddy, and I have your six,” she said.
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