Police officers in their dress blues from around the state of Minnesota, along with hundreds of friends, family members and colleagues were on hand to say good-bye to Elk River Officer Todd Besser and his son, Blake at Elk River High School Sunday afternoon.
In an emotional service, Elk River’s Police Chief, Ron Nierenhausen remembered his colleague of 16 years as someone who cared about everyone, who thought valor was part of the job, and said Todd was striding to heaven’s pearly gates with his trademark walk (a “waddle”) and wave.
David Oltman remembered Blake, 27, as someone who loved video games, his friends, and his girlfriend, who lived in the St. Michael residence, but was not home during last Saturday’s tragic shootings.
“In German,” David said, “Besser literally means ‘better.’ And Blake made his friends’ lives better.”
And Todd’s brother, Scott Besser, spoke directly to Todd, Blake, Derrick and Chris in his eulogy, saying Todd and Blake would be missed, but will be seen again some day. He told Derrick, Besser’s son who came home from Afghanistan after word spread of the shootings, he was there for him. And he told Chris, the alleged shooter and 21-year-old charged in the murders, the family had forgiven him.
“We love you and we are here for you,” Todd Besser said.
After storms swept through the area Sunday morning, and a downpour hit Officer Besser’s graveside service later that afternoon, there was sun shining on the streets of Elk River. Dozens of departments from throughout the state led a first procession of police cars, lights flashing, down roads that Todd Besser had patrolled – Proctor, School Boulevard, and others on the way to Lake Orono Cemetery.
That was followed by nearly every car in the Elk River Police Department fleet, as Todd Besser’s badge was called for an end of watch.
At the gravesite, officers from the United States Air Force – Todd was an airman prior to being a police officer – folded the flag draped over the officer’s casket and presented it to his wife, Gwen, of Otsego.
A private burial will be held today for Blake Besser.