Lee's Summit Police Say Goodbye To Officer Thomas Orr, Victim Of Westport Shooting
In a video that plays on loop in the background of his memorial service, the young officer grins as he performs the step routine, slapping his thighs in unison with the community members he’s dancing with.
His triumphant smile is the last frame – he knows he just nailed it.
“One thing’s for sure: Thomas Orr was the best stepper on the force,” Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes said at the officer’s funeral Thursday.
Orr, 30, was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in West Port. Orr, who was off duty at the time, was an innocent bystander, says Sgt. Chris Depue, public information officer for the LSPD.
“Ultimately our focus today is comfort for his family, but ultimately we’re going to give them the gift of justice. We know our brothers and sisters at KCPD are good at what they do, and they will bring this case to a resolution,” Depue says. “I have no doubt.”
The week before he died, Orr had started his dream job as a school resource officer. Assigning Orr to Campbell Middle School had been “a no brainer,” Forbes said, just as hiring him from the Marshall Police Department had been.
Forbes spoke candidly about Orr’s motivation for joining the force – as a young, black man, Orr’s interactions with law enforcement had been negative. He thought he could do better.
Forbes told mourners all police officers have days where they’re hated by the community for doing their jobs.
“You want to know who experiences this more?” Forbes said. “The black officers.”
Uniformed officers from many metro area departments packed the pews of Abundant Life Baptist Church, as did members of Omega Psi Phi, the fraternity into which Orr was initiated while at Lincoln University.
Students at Campbell came forward during the service to let Orr’s parents know he’d made a difference in just three days.
“What he realized was even at his age, he was just a kid on the inside,” Depue says. “Those kids responded to it in an amazing way. So as we move forward, we grieve that loss. We grieve that amazing potential.”
Depue says a 10-man contingent will accompany Officer Orr’s body back to his hometown of Chicago, where he will be interred at Washington Memorial Cemetery. He says police liaisons are working with Orr’s family, who still live in Chicago, to make sure they have everything they need.
Kansas City Police are still searching for Orr’s killer. The department tweeted Monday that of approximately 200 people who had witnessed the shooting, only 3 had talked to police.
“We understand that 200 people are going evacuate when shots are fired in a restaurant, but I don’t know why an hour later or a day later those same people can’t say what they saw,” Depue says. “That’s how you solve any crime, through public cooperation.”
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.