Slain Fla. deputy laid to rest

The Miami Herald
Officer Down: Deputy Paul Rein

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — Broward sheriff's Deputy Paul Rein was buried Tuesday afternoon, another victim of the violence tearing at South Florida police officers.

Once again, a rifle squad fired three volleys -- commonly called a 21-gun salute. Once again, buglers sounded taps. Once again, a flag was folded and handed to the widow of a local law enforcement officer.

Teri Rein rubbed her hand over the white stars, her head lowering in grief, her eyes blinking back fresh tears.

"There's a hole in your heart," said Debi Pato, a retired BSO deputy who worked with Rein. "It's so undeserving. It doesn't make sense."

Rein, 76, a husband, father and grandfather, was shot and killed last week as he was transferring inmate Michael Mazza to court. Mazza, who detectives say overpowered Rein, has been charged with first-degree murder.

"Our Florida grieves today, but she also rises in a celebration of this great man's life," Gov. Charlie Crist said during a memorial service at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

"He was a wonderful public servant, a wonderful husband and father, a great Floridian and a great American," Crist said.

After the mournful service at the Broward Center, the deputy's remains were escorted through the county he served by a long procession carrying family and friends and fellow officers.

Family members of fallen Deputy Paul Rein's receive the flag from Rein's casket in North Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Innerarity, Pool)
At precisely 1:53 p.m., the faint sound of sirens and motorcycle engines could be heard through the warm air outside Star of David Memorial Gardens in North Lauderdale.

A Coconut Creek police motorcade led the way, a gesture of respect for Rein's stepson, Chris Beroldi, a member of that police department. The motorcycles were followed by BSO detention transport buses and squad cars from around the state.

Several residents from the Shaker Village subdivision across the street watched the procession.

"Oh, dear," one woman said quietly, shaking her head.

And then, during the graveside service, five BSO helicopters approached from the east in a V formation, one peeling off to the north -- the missing man formation -- just as it reached the burial site.

A 20-year veteran of BSO's detention transport unit, Rein was the eighth South Florida officer shot in the line of duty this year and the third to die.

"Please know that Paul will forever hold an honored and hallowed place in our ranks," Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said during the morning service. "His sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Hundreds of law enforcement officers from a variety of departments gathered at the theater, including 132 of Rein's colleagues from the Broward Detention Center. Deputies from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office filled in for them.

Rein's widow, Teri, wore a black suit and a black ribbon was pinned to its collar. She wept and dabbed at the tears with a white tissue. She covered her face completely during the playing of Ray Charles' soulful America The Beautiful, one of her husband's favorite recordings.

Two deputies flanked the flag-draped casket while that song was played, their heads bowed. Tears welled in the eyes of many of the uniformed officers in the 2,700 seats, a sea of white shirts and blouses.

At one point, grandson Matthew Rein told the officers that they gave his "Grandpa Pucky" -- a nickname the deputy carried nearly from birth -- special meaning in life.

"I know you loved him, but he loved you too," the grandson told the police officers. "He just loved you and wanted to be part of what you do. His life was committed to serving.

"My grandfather died doing exactly what he wanted to be doing," he said. "And he did it with courage and he did it with honor."

A large photo of Rein, smiling and in uniform, served as the background. Red and white bouquets colored the stage. The service began with the hymn On Holy Ground, performed by Deputy Ernest Gonder, one of Rein's colleagues.

"We are standing in God's presence, on holy ground."

A few minutes earlier, accompanied by four motorcycle officers and led by an escort of many more, a hearse carrying Rein's body rolled slowly to the Broward Center's entrance.

There, bagpipes mournfully played Amazing Grace and officers from around the state -- black bands again encircling their badges -- stood at parade rest and then attention, an honor guard for the casket as it was carried inside.

In addition to BSO deputies, the contingent included officers from Pembroke Pines, Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County, Hialeah, Hollywood, South Miami and many other places.

The coffin was led up the driveway by Capt. Max, a riderless horse from the BSO's mounted unit, boots positioned backward in the stirrups, symbolizing an officer's final look at his colleagues.

Just three months ago, BSO Sgt. Chris Reyka was killed by an assailant still at large and many of these same officers attended Reyka's funeral.

"We haven't had time to heal," said BSO Deputy Frankie Torres, who lives across the street from Reyka's family. "And it will be a long time before we have time to heal."

Mazza, a 40-year-old career criminal accused of shooting Rein with the officer's .38-caliber revolver, escaped in last Wednesday's incident but was recaptured after a four-hour manhunt.

Rein was the fourth Broward deputy shot this year and the second to die. In Miami-Dade County, one officer was shot dead and three were wounded during an incident in September.

Almost exactly a year ago, BSO Deputy Brian Tephford was shot and killed while making a traffic stop in Tamarac.

"It never gets easier," said Joseph Scimeca, a retired officer from New York City and a member of a pipe and drum corps. "It just makes you more angry. We need better protection of our police."

Said Crist: "It's important to remember that people in law enforcement are willing to sacrifice everything to protect us. To all of you in law enforcement, God bless you and thank you for what you do."

Herald staff writers Jasmine Kripalani and Ani Martinez contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 Miami Herald

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