BALTIMORE - Baltimore County police Officer Jason Schneider will be remembered as one of the best.
Following a memorial service at St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, Schneider was laid to rest at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.
Schneider's life was honored by many in the area as evidenced by a surge in social media response to his death. Before 8 a.m., hours prior to the start of the memorial service, crowds gathered at the church in Manchester. Outside the church, officers lined up as far as the eye could see to honor one of their own.
In all, approximately 1,200 people, including police officers from across the region, paid their respects during the approximately 90-minute church service. The church was standing-room only with hundreds more lined outside the church to mourn Schneider's death.
The scene at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens was similar as many gathered, battling heat and humidity to honor Schneider -- several of his brothers and sisters in blue were treated for heat exhaustion.
Schneider is described by Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson as "extraordinarily experienced."
Schneider was a leader of the police force's tactical unit. He was also a 36-year-old man with a family that lost his life in the name of public safety.
"I’ve known Jason Schneider for many years and like many of you, I remember his many gifts: his strength and his focus, his leadership, his devotion to his family and devotion to his work.," said Johnson, who added during the service that Schneider was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. "He was a person who was quiet and reserved; qualities that made him respected by all that knew him...
"In my nearly four decades with this department I’ve known thousands of police officers, and Jason was truly one of the best."
Schneider was shot on Wednesday morning while attempting to serve a warrant to a suspect in an August 19 shooting. He later died at Shock Trauma.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was quick to order state flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Schneider as news of the tactical officer's death hit the media. Schneider's death marks the ninth line of duty death for the Baltimore County Police Department since 1969 .
Schneider served 13 years in local law enforcement and 10 years in the special tactical unit of the Baltimore County Police department, where he served as one of the unit's leaders.
Officer Robert Jones, a 27-year veteran of the department, was Schneider's team leader on the tactical unit and one of his close friends. He spoke fondly of Schneider, not only as a police officer, but as a husband, father and son.
Jones spoke of Schneider's devotion to his wife, Ericka, and his two children, Brandon and Kayla. Jones recalled Schneider fondly talking about date nights with his wife and getting home to spend time with his children, even if it came after a tough night on the job when he got less than two hours sleep.
"All I can do is speak from the heart and represent the guys I love," Jones said. "I don’t know if there is enough hours in the day to talk about Jason as a human being. He was not just a police officer or a former Marine, he was a great human being."
Jones said Schneider was among the best of the best and never shied away from entering into a dangerous situation, similar to the one which cost him his life. Jones added that Schneider was a true leader and a teacher who worked to help make those officers around him better.
"We usually bring the new guys along slow, but Jason was the type of guy you can only bring along so slow," Jones said. "He wanted to be the guy who led his men through the door. He wanted that job...
"Eventually he became the best guy we had. He was the most dependable man that we could put through that door first. That’s what he wanted to do. He looked at it as protecting his teammates. He would go through that door and be that guy. I’ve been doing this for many many years, and he is as good as it gets at being that guy."
Retired Lt. Kevin Novak can also attest to Schneider's leadership and character. Novak was in charge of Schneider's unit for four years.
"He was dedicated and was always trying to learn more and teach others to make them better and keep them safe," Novak said earlier this week. "This is such a senseless loss."
Kim Pennywell, a family friend, read a letter written by Erika Schneider. In the statement, Mrs. Schneider spoke about their seven years together and how Jason sent her flowers every month on the day they met for a year and continued to do so unexpectedly for as long as they were together.
Ericka Schneider also recalled in her statement the last memory she had with her husband, who kissed her good bye and told her he loved her as he left for worked at 4 a.m. the morning that he died.
"After our very first date, I told my mother I was going to marry [him]," the letter read. "It didn't take long for me to fall madly in love with him and he couldn't have been any more loving toward me and of course our children."
Along with his wife and children, Schneider, a 1995 North Carroll High School graduate, is survived by his parents, Charles Dennis Schneider and Karen Ann Buchheister Schneider; two brothers and their spouses, Kenneth and Autumn Schneider of Hampstead and Michael and Nicole Schneider of Westminster, along with many other relatives and friends.
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