Hundreds showed up to Brad Lancaster’s memorial service, held inside a professional soccer stadium to accommodate the crowd. Many more lined up along the funeral procession route to say goodbye to a Platte County native and Kansas City (Kan.) Police Department detective killed in the line of duty.
In an emotional display, friends, family, colleagues and total strangers came together Saturday, May 14 to say goodbye. Just five days earlier, Lancaster, 39, died after being shot several times in an exchange of gunfire with a Tonganoxie, Kan. man.
A brisk morning ceremony at Children’s Mercy Park began with a color guard presentation. The American flag, Kansas state flag and Kansas City, Kan. police flag passed through a tunnel lined with an honorary guard and other officers at the players’ entrance to the field.
Although there was no 21-gun salute, the stadium was filled with the solemn playing of traditional bagpipes by the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department Bagpipers.
Friends, family members and fellow officers carried Lancaster’s casket, draped in an American flag, out for the service.
Other friends and family members followed the pallbearers, along with KCK police officers for seats close to the field, while other emergency personnel and the general public filled most of one half of stadium seating.
Officers were allowed the opportunity to attend the ceremony while Kansas Highway Patrol personnel helped answered their calls.
The services included Fraternal Order of Police president Scott Kirkpatrick and KCK police chief Terry Zeigler, who both told light-hearted stories of Lancaster along with sad recollections of his passing.
“I knew we were headed for an interesting conversation when Brad raised his hand and decided he had something to say,” Zeigler said. “Sometimes, I think Brad liked to debate things so much that he was prepared to argue both sides of the argument, depending on which side you wanted to take.”
The jokes didn’t stop there, as KCK mayor Mark Holland later spoke of Lancaster’s love of fireworks.
“Because Brad’s not here to blow anything up, we know, nevertheless, he would want to go out with a bang,” he said, as a round of pyrotechnics went off near Lancaster’s casket.
But, as Zeigler spoke, he presented a sincere apology to the officer’s wife, children and other family members in the audience.
“We share your sorrow and we thank you for sharing Brad’s life with us,” Zeigler said.
Long-time colleague and friend Chris Blake, a KCK police officer, also spoke of his relationship with the slain detective.
Blake detailed his role in pushing Lancaster toward the police academy, a secretive carpool system they helped develop with fellow officers and the few brief moments he held Lancaster’s hand, just seconds before the surgery aimed at saving his life.
“I will be forever grateful for those moments I had with him,” Blake said. “Once we were told Brad had not survived his injuries, we had to tell the kids.
“The only thing I could say to my boys was that bad things sometimes happen to really, really good people.”
But perhaps the most emotional tribute of the day came from vocalist and officer Danon Vaughn, who performed a rendition of “Amazing Grace.” He choked up several times but managed to finish the piece with tears streaming down his face.
Although the ceremonies were held in Kansas City, Kan., Platte County citizens received one last chance to say goodbye to Lancaster and give thanks for his service.
A funeral procession came back on Interstate 435 across the state line into Platte County and proceeded onto Interstate 29 north. Emergency personnel and citizens lined overpasses to pay respects.
A graduate of West Platte High School, the procession connected with Highway 273 and went into downtown Weston, Mo. The internment was held at Graceland Cemetery.
Joe and Sharon Carson of Platte City, Mo., stood on the NW Farley Hampton Road bridge over I-435. They hung an American flag on the back of their truck because, “Lancaster was American,” and died for our safety.
Closer to Platte City, more people had gathered to wave the motorcade on. At the NW 120 Street bridge over 435, more than a dozen families had come together to give tribute, with one family waving a royal and dark blue police flag.
Once the motorcade drove up I-29 through Platte City, they were greeted by a half dozen emergency vehicles stopped on the Highway 92 bridge to flash their lights. Fire and police personnel also draped an American flag over the bridge and waved solemnly as the vehicles drove past.
Lancaster hailed from Weston and graduated from West Platte High School in 1994. He served in the U.S. Air Force with two tours overseas — the first as a military policeman in Kuwait during Desert Shield and another in Saudi Arabia.
From August of 1998 to July 2007, Lancaster worked for the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. He also volunteered as a firefighter for the West Platte and South Platte fire protection districts.
As valedictorian of his class of the Kansas City (Kan.) Police Academy, Lancaster quickly rose to the rank of detective in the KCK Police Department.
Lancaster spent his last nine years working for the KCK Police Department. Fellow officers will continue his work, which most recently included seeking justice for a 7-year-old homicide victim whose body was allegedly fed to pigs.
Some will help to seek justice for Lancaster himself with the prosecution of Curtis Rand Ayers, 28, the man accused of shooting Lancaster. Ayers has been charged with a litany of crimes from his alleged murderous spree last week, including capital murder for his involvement in the shooting.
Officers were responding to a call near the Hollywood Casino of a suspicious person on May 9, and Lancaster happened to be in the area. Upon Lancaster’s arrival, the suspect opened fire, striking the detective multiple times.
The suspect fled the scene in the detective’s car and later stole two more vehicles, including one with two children inside. Authorities eventually shot and apprehended Ayers in Kansas City, Mo.
Lancaster was rushed to KU Medical Center, where he went into surgery and later died of his injuries. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.