A thousand uniforms colored with emblems from police departments from Delaware to Virginia flowed into the largest church in Prince George's County yesterday as police paid their respects to Officer Raymond Hubbard, 28, shot following a robbery at Iverson Mall on Monday.
Policemen of every age and rank filled the Riverdale Baptist Church in Largo to mourn Hubbard, who was attempting to stop a jewelry store robbery in the crowded mall when he was shot.
After his casket was placed before the altar, a three-man honor guard snapped to attention. The men were flanked by color guards from Montgomery, Prince George's and the District's police departments and Maryland state police. As the white-gloved honor guard stood stiffly, 50 fresh-faced cadets from the Prince George's Police Academy filed past, each placing a long-stemmed white carnation on the coffin.
"It's like losing a member of the family," said Deputy Police Chief Col. Rice Turner of the Prince George's Police Department. "It brings the officers closer together and makes them rededicate to what they are about. And it's a big family."
County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan announced yesterday a $25,000 reward in county money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hubbard's killers.
"An assault on a police officer is an assault on all of us," Hogan said in a press conference. "This is a county investment in the killer's apprehension," said Hogan, who will fly to Warner Robins, Ga., for Hubbard's funeral today.
Hogan said that leads are still being investigated, including eyewitness reports from many bystanders, but Turner said he could not comment on any leads at this time.
Lt. Wallace Andrzejewski, Hubbard's immediate commanding officer, said the reward would speed the capture of the gunmen who caught Hubbard in a crossfire after they robbed the Kay Jeweler's store of an undisclosed amount of cash and expensive watches.
"The criminal element out there will turn in a friend for a dollar," Andrzejewski said. "I think they are probably out of our jurisdiction now--but we will get them," he vowed.
Prince George's police chief John McHale presented Hubbard's mother, Lillian Haynes, with a gold medal of honor, the county's highest award, for her son's valor. State Sen. Mike Donovan presented Haynes with condolences and a proclamation of recognition from the Maryland Senate.
The mourners were quiet throughout the 40-minute service, stirring only after officer Carole Landrum sang "Amazing Grace."
Word of Hubbard's shooting was distributed within minutes over police teletypes along the East Coast Monday night, a customary police practice when an officer has been shot. Police departments frequently send representatives to the funerals of fellow officers.
"It's love for another police officer," said Cpl. Herbert Murray of the Delaware State Police. Along with trooper Eric Swanson, he drove 2 1/2 hours from Rehoboth Beach to the church service. Nineteen more Delaware troopers had planned to attend as well, Murray said, but the funeral of a Pennsylvania trooper in Pittsburgh the day before prevented them.
Hubbard's death had an even stronger meaning for the officers close to home.
"The fact that the officer was off duty, shopping for a Valentine gift and the violent nature of his death--caught in a crossfire--made it different," said Andrzejewski.
"The officers realize that only time and circumstance dictate life or death. That is the shocking reality of it," the lieutenant added.
Chief McHale, looking at the long line of police cars filling the church parking lot, said the turnout was encouraging, but he was even more impressed by community response to the shooting.
More than 60 witnesses have come forward with information and police telephone lines have been flooded with calls ever since, McHale said.
"We don't want the police department to be a 'them and us' situation," McHale said. "We're part of the community.