KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Just before the funeral of a detective who was killed by a fleeing suspect in May, the police chief of Kansas City, Kansas, asked one of his trusted veterans, Capt. Robert “Dave” Melton, to craft a how-to manual for holding a slain officer’s funeral in case the department ever needed to do so again.
Chief Terry Zeigler said when he finished it, Melton told him to “put it on the shelf, and hopefully we’ll never have to use it again.”
On Saturday, only about two weeks after that conversation, they had to use it for Melton, who was gunned down Tuesday in his patrol car while searching for a shooting suspect. He was 46.
“It was with a heavy heart that we pulled the manual off the shelf to guide us through the process of honoring its author, Captain Robert Melton,” the shaken chief told mourners that packed a park for Melton’s funeral. “Dave, I hope we made you proud. We’re very proud of you. Rest now, brother. We’ll take it from here.”
Mourners began showing up at Children’s Mercy Park after sunrise for the service, which began at 9:30 a.m., The Kansas City Star reported (http://j.mp/2a0Jnzm ). It was the second recent funeral for the department, following the one in May for Det. Brad Lancaster.
Officers from several nearby states were on hand to pay tribute to Melton, and military veterans holding American flags lined a street near the park to honor the 17-year veteran of the police force, who also served in the Army National Guard.
“You will see he was a true hero,” said Zeigler, who struggled to make it through his tribute to Melton. “Not only was he a hero in our community, but an American hero. He was on the front lines fighting terrorism to keep our nation safe.”
Authorities allege that a local man, 20-year-old Jamaal Lewis, shot and killed Melton while the officer was investigating a drive-by shooting. Melton was alone when he drove up to a person who matched a description of someone who may have been involved in the earlier attack, and before he could get out of his unmarked cruiser, he was shot several times through his passenger-side window and died later at a hospital.
Lewis has been charged with capital murder in Melton’s death.
Melton, whose partner is pregnant, also left behind three children. He was to be buried at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com