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Thousands show up to say goodbye to Kalamazoo County Sgt. Ryan Proxmire

Sgt. Proxmire Funeral Procession - Community Support
Posted at 7:21 PM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 22:24:00-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — It was a day of mourning for Kalamazoo County and beyond as both community members and law enforcement showed up to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by Sergeant Ryan J. Proxmire.

He died last weekend after being shot while pursuing a suspect.

"It was an unbelievable amount of support," said the City of Kalamazoo's Mayor David Anderson. "There were people from all over the country here. It was a really palpable feeling of support from the community and for Ryan Proxmire’s family."

Law enforcement from near and far showed up to support the fallen sergeant and his family, alongside community members who lined the route of the funeral procession.

"I felt that it was important to show respect for him and to show his family that we really appreciated everything he has done," said Maureen Kelly, a Kalamazoo resident who came out to show her support.

"To show my support absolutely, what a tragic situation for our community. These rescue heroes really risk their lives every single day," said Susan Diffenderfer, another Kalamazoo resident who wanted to show her support.

Kelly and Diffenderfer were just two of the many community members lining the streets from 9th to Stadium Drive to Howard Street.

Another attendee, Laurie Smith, founder and president of the Forever Strong Memorial Foundation knows all too well the importance of showing up.

"It is so heartwarming to see people taking time out of their day, out of their Sunday in this case to come and make signs and stand here and show their support," Smith said. "It just, it matters. It matters to the family, and I can guarantee you it matters to law enforcement too."

Laurie Smith Interview During Procession

Laurie Smith and her daughter were in a procession 5 1/2 years ago when she lost her husband and son from a mass shooting where an Uber driver went on a shooting spree around the city.

"We are giving back by being out here and showing our support for law enforcement, their family tragically grieving and the Proxmire family who are devastated. Their lives have been shattered. They need our support in whatever way we can do it," Smith said.

Next to community members were over 1,000 law enforcement who participated in the services throughout the day as they said goodbye to a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice.