‘Devastated is what we are:’ Hundreds say goodbye to slain Cook County Sheriff’s officer
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter December 29, 2013 12:19PM
Updated: February 27, 2014 4:24AM
Cuauhtemoc Estrada’s final act of courage — saving his daughter and her boyfriend from armed robbers — wasn’t his only legacy.
The slain Cook County Sheriff’s officer on Saturday was remembered at his funeral not only as a family man but a mentor and an inspiration to his family and fellow officers.
Hundreds of uniformed officers — including fellow Cook County Sheriff’s officers, officers from Estrada’s hometown of Maywood and from countless jurisdictions packed the pews of Holy Name Cathedral to pay respect to the 50-year-old who was shot Dec. 20 while protecting his family outside a Bellwood VFW.
Bagpipers filled State Street as Estrada’s casket was brought inside. Pallbearers, including Estrada’s son and a brother, wore pins with his picture.
Felipe Gallegos, one of Estrada’s nephews, read a letter written by Estrada’s four children: “Speechless is not the word — devastated is what we are,” the letter read.
Estrada’s family said he always strived for them to be successful.
“We’re brokenhearted but we keep a smile on our faces to see the impact you left on your friends, your co-workers, your family. Our goals in life just got a little bigger, because you were a star,” the letter said.
Gallegos called his uncle a “good strong person filled with a lot of character and a lot of heart for his family.”
He was the orchestrator of family gatherings, and was always around if any one of them needed help, Gallegos said. And whenever something went wrong, he was the one to calm family down, saying,‘No, no. Be cool,’” Gallegos said as Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Alfonza Wysinger looked on with others.
“Remembering the feeling of knowing that he was on his way to the house would bring me joy — the way he was with us as a family...filling the house with care, smiles and a lot of laughter,” Gallegos said.
Father Dan Mayall of Holy Name reminded mourners that Estrada’s death was not in vain, and the “light always wins.”
After the services, the Chicago Police Department’s Bagpipe and Drums of the Emerald Society circled the street outside the church, playing “Amazing Grace” as Estrada’s casket was brought out and wrapped in an American flag.
Dart, who sat with the family during the services, called Estrada a hero. He said Estrada’s family is “destroyed” by the loss of a man who was “at the center of everything.” He said he’s not surprised so many officers came to show their support because “He was so well known and loved by everyone.”
“The man could never stop. He lived to protect people and his final act was protecting his daughter,” Dart said outside. “I mean, he knew something awful was going on and he didn’t care. He was going to save his daughter. [He was] an amazing person.”
Estrada worked as an investigator for the sheriff’s police for more than two decades, most recently in the electronic monitoring unit.
Two Bellwood men have been charged with his murder.