Updated at 5:47 p.m. Wednesday
Riverside Police Officer Michael ‘Mike’ Crain was a family man remembered Wednesday not only as a devoted Marine and an “ideal officer” by the police department—but also a perfect “wing man” by his friends.
Crain, who was killed in the line of duty on the morning of Feb. 7, was honored at a memorial service at the Grove Community Church in Riverside with an estimated 8,000 people in attendance; the majority of them fellow members of the law enforcement community.
Friends and family painted a picture of the life tragically lost as one that will be dearly missed by all those he touched in his 34 years—11 of which were spent working for the Riverside Police Department and four of which were spent in the United States Marine Corps.
“I knew that communities would reach out,” wife Regina Crain said while wiping away tears. “And I knew that a lot of people love Mike, and I knew that I would have a lot of support no matter what, but I really did not realize the sheer scale of this, and how many people are touched by his life. It gives me really great comfort to see that, and I want to thank you all.”
Regina Crain, who lived with Mike in Beaumont along with their two children Ian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 4, was the last in a group to offer up personal remarks about her husband. Many who had fought back tears until that point in the service, could be seen visibly shaken while she spoke of their “perfect” marriage and family memories.
“There was nothing he would not do,” Crain said, describing how their daughter’s “mommy and me” ballet class soon became a “daddy and me” class and how he learned baseball so he could help coach son Ian’s team.
Crian went on to describe how she is going to miss their weekends together as a family, and their Sunday mornings spent together eating the same breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns—Mike’s favorite.
“Every day got better. Every day we renewed our love. And I knew how much he loved me, and how much he loved those babies. I just kept waiting. It just seemed too good. Everything seemed too perfect. I know there’s a lot of people that have wonderful relationships. I felt mine was perfect. And I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. .. but it never did.”
Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said Officer Michael Crain was the “ideal officer” whom he had even joked about cloning.
Speaking directly to Crain’s son and daughter, the chief spoke of the “loving daddy” who was well-respected in the department.
“Your dad was a tough guy,” Diaz said. “Your dad was a good friend.”
“If you don’t remember anything else we tell you about your dad, remember this: You were the light of his life,” he added.
Friend Joe Negroni said Crain was a great friend he could count on “no matter what.”
“He was my wing man, my drinking buddy,” he joked, before adding that “he was one mean Marine.”
On a more serious note, Negroni wanted Crain’s wife to know how much his friend loved her and their children.
“Gigi, Mike was just head over heels in love with you,” he said.
As for his time on the Riverside Police Department, Retired Riverside police Detective Steve Pounds, who had initially met Crain when he went for a “ride-along” with the force, recalled how the patrolman had started out "tentative and apprehensive," but soon came into his own, successfully pursuing a series of goals over the next 11 years.
"He wanted to be on the SWAT unit. Accomplished that. He wanted to be a firearms instructor. Accomplished that. He wanted to be a field training officer. Accomplished that," Pounds said. "He had the skills and demeanor that motivate and stimulate. Mike was a role model."
Laid to Rest
Following some more remarks and a photo slideshow, the funeral procession made its way to Riverside National Cemetery—where 150,000 fellow veterans are buried.
Law enforcement officers not only lined the 50 yard walkway from which the casket was unloaded and carried to a terrace for another, outdoor service—but they also lined the entire pond alongside that terrace. Cemetery officials estimate 5,000 officers were there.
Those thousands watched a traditional service which included the presentation of the flag to Regina Crain, and the passing of a rider-less horse. Both moments had the widow in tears; the sound of her sobbing the only thing that could be heard.
The cemetery, which is the third largest of the 131 national cemeteries managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hosted a private burial service for the family of Crain following the public event.
Crain’s death is blamed on a man who has been the target of a massive manhunt for the last week—Christopher J. Dorner. Police say Dorner gunned down Crain while he sat at a stoplight on routine patrol on Feb. 7 in a “cowardly ambush.”
Crain's partner, whose name has not been released, was seriously wounded but was expected to recover.
Dorner is believed to have died Tuesday afternoon in a cabin south of the mountain town of Big Bear, when it burned to the ground following a shootout with sheriff's deputies, one of whom also died.
Dorner is also blamed in the deaths of an engaged SoCal couple who were shot to death in an Irvine parking structure on Super Bowl Sunday.