Fallen Colo. officer mourned

John Aguilar, Rocky Mountain News

Copyright 2006 Denver Publishing Company
Rocky Mountain News

The photographs at St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon told the story of an officer, an actor and a husband:

Detective Jared Jensen in a crisp, blue Colorado Springs police uniform, standing tall with fellow officers.

On stage, acting his heart out for the audience.

And at his wedding, walking down the aisle with his brand new wife at his side, a smile etched on his face.

"Whatever that boy worked at, he put his heart into it," said Jacki Jensen, who came to Colorado Springs from Illinois to remember her slain nephew.

Inside the chapel, the energy, the charm and the joy that were very much alive in those photos had been stilled.

Dressed in full uniform with an American flag draped over half the casket, the fallen officer evoked a somber set of emotions from those who came to pay their respects.

"I had to see him," said Fran Bruce, a police service representative who worked with Jensen at the Sand Creek substation in Colorado Springs.

Bruce said she couldn't quite accept the idea that Jensen, on the force for 3 1/2 years, was really dead until she saw him at rest.

"He looks so wonderful," she said tearfully. "It's still almost inconceivable that this happened."

Police say Jensen, 30, was gunned down on a city street Wednesday as he tried to apprehend a man allegedly involved in a stabbing earlier in the month.

The suspect, Jereme Lamberth, was found hiding in an abandoned recreational vehicle park south of downtown shortly after the shooting.

Lamberth, who also goes by the name Jeremy Schweinhardt, was arrested for first-degree murder in Jensen's death.

He is scheduled to make his first appearance in district court March 6.

At St. Patrick's, none of Jensen's fellow officers were talking about the case. With badges bearing a swath of black tape, they stood stone-faced in the church hallways or sat in pews fighting back tears.

Two officers in Dallas Police Department uniforms were also in attendance.

"Everyone seems to be doing as well as can be considered," Sgt. T.A. Stankey said outside the church.

He said many of Colorado Springs' 800 or so police officers had attended a private memorial service for Jensen Saturday.

"The community's been great," Stankey said.

One of the Springs residents who didn't know Jensen but came anyway was Erma Hall, a St. Patrick's parishioner who felt like she "needed to be here."

"You take these cops for granted and you hear all the bad things about them, but that's just not so," she said. "To lose your life doing your job, that's the ultimate, isn't it?"

Lori Lujan, a retired deputy from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, said that the dangers of the job are not appreciated until an officer is killed in the line of duty.

"Most people don't go to work hoping to just come home," she said. "We have people who are willing to do things in the community that others aren't."

Jensen, as a member of the vice, narcotics and intelligence unit, worked on a specialized squad of undercover plainclothes officers that targeted high-crime areas.

But he also made time for another of his loves - acting. A Best Thespian Award from Jensen's high school in Rockford, Ill., was propped up among the photos and images of his life inside the church.

"We're very proud of him, but we were proud of him before he died, too," Jacki Jensen said, as a bell rang mournfully from the church's bell tower. "He was a wonderful person," she said.


Funeral and memorial fund

* Funeral: 1 p.m. today at New Life Church, 11025 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs. After the funeral, there will be a procession from the church, south on Interstate 25 to Uintah Street, then east to Nevada Avenue and south on Nevada to the Police Operations Center.

* Memorial fund: Colorado Springs Credit Union, 426 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903. 
aguilarj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2550; Headline p.1A - FRIENDS, FAMILY SALUTE FALLEN COP / Funeral set today in Springs.; SEE END OF TEXT FOR INFOBOX

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