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*Burial for an Officer*


"Fellow police say farewell to Haffner"

Using rakes and shovels, Metro Police officers buried one of their own, Joshua Warren Haffner, Monday morning in Murfreesboro, four days after his 3 year-old son accidentally shot and killed him.

Hundreds of police officers and deputies packed Highland Heights Church of Christ for services and attended the burial at Roselawn Memorial Gardens. Officers from Metro, LaVergne, Smyrna, Murfreesboro and the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department wore yellow ribbons in Haffner's memory and black mourning ribbons on their shields.

Metro Police Chief Emmett Turner and Officer Mark Ryherd, class president of Metro Police Session 40 of the Police Academy, spoke at the funeral. Haffner graduated from the academy in November.

A slide of Haffner, 22, in his police uniform was shown on a movie screen behind the pulpit. Country music singer Vince Gill also performed an original song in memory of Haffner.

Church member Glenn Garner, who officiated the funeral, said Haffner's death brought home "two realities. The loss of a friend and death itself."

Losing Haffner reminded everyone of their own mortality and that life is short and uncertain, Garner said.

Garner quoted friends of Haffner who told him such things as "he always made you smile," "he made the best of things," being a police officer was "his lifelong dream," "he always played to win," "he was always good at keeping things light even during tough situations," "it always felt good to be with him," and "he was always the first to greet you and shake your hand."

Garner said that years from now he expects to be sitting on his porch talking with friends about old times and to have Haffner's name come up.

"I know I'll remember Josh and say, "He was a good man," Garner said.

The mournful tunes of a bagpipe filled the air as the Metro Police Department Session 40 members filed past the open casket in a final salute.

Dozens of police officers walked by with misty eyes and trembling lips.

Haffner's widow, Amy, who is pregnant with their second son, could be heard crying throughout the salute.

Hundreds of cars were in the miles-long funeral procession. Those driving in the opposite direction pulled off the road, and many stood with their hands over their hearts.

Along the route to the cemetery, many police and sheriff's officers stood at attention, and two K-9 units stood watch.

At Roselawn Memorial Gardens, the young widow was surrounded by family and friends as she sat in a green tent in front of her husband's grave.

After a short ceremony, she placed a red rose on top of the blue casket. Other family members and police officers did the same.

A bugler played "Taps" as the Metro flag was removed from the casket and presented to Amy Haffner. Although several mourners left, saying "I just can't watch this," Amy Haffner stayed where she was as the coffin was lowered into the ground.

She was held by family members as a concrete cover was placed on top of the coffin.

Amy Haffner dropped the first handful of dirt into the grave and was then followed by other family members. In teams of two, Metro officers used rakes and shovels to bury Haffner.

Haffner was at home with his wife and their son Jake at about 11:30 p.m., Thursday. Haffner had laid his gun belt on the table and turned to talk to his wife.

"The child picked up the gun and fired it," Smyrna Police Sgt. Ken Hampton said.

Smyrna Police established the Joshua Haffner Memorial Fund at AmSouth Bank

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