INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The sound of bells breaks the silence, heavy with sadness as members of law enforcement, first responders, family, friends and the public gathered to say goodbye to Independence Police Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans, who was shot and killed in the line of duty September 15.
It was a beautiful, touching, grief-filled yet inspiring funeral service at the Community of Christ Auditorium for the 22-year-old, who wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. That was the theme weaved into everyone’s memories of the little boy who used to ride his grandfather’s John Deer Gator around the circle driveway chasing bad guys.
Blaize, as he was affectionately known, was always looking out for his family. He was a protective big brother who was quick to say the words I love you. Yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am no ma’am is how he addressed his elders. Polite, genuine, dedicated, optimistic, respectful, a man who asked the father of his girlfriend permission to marry the love of his life before he proposed on a boat. The two had big plans for the future.
He was a snappy dresser, known for drinking coffee, a voracious eater who especially liked brownies. He was called a refrigerator peeker who put Siracha on everything.
Blaize grew up in North Kansas City. After graduating from Smithville High School he worked as an EMT for American Medical Response and then wanted to be a nurse or follow in his mom’s footsteps and work for the fire department.
Mourners at the funeral erupted in laughter when his former boss said he should have known Blaize would move on from AMR to the Police Academy instead, because during his interview he said his favorite thing was hanging out with his friends eating donuts.
Laughter and joy is what Blaize brought to those who knew him. His sister said she hears his voice telling her, “It’s going to be OK. Stay strong, you can do this. Laugh don’t cry.”
Blaize’s family asked several things of the crowd. Talk about him, remember him, honor him and all of the others who put their lives on the line to protect others. Live passionately, listen, forgive, love unconditionally and take nothing for granted. Never say goodbye.
“It’s important to support people when they’re hurting, especially when it’s one of our first responders who sacrificed so much for us,” said Independence business owner Josh Morgan.
Flags waved high above the procession for from Blaize’s funeral to his place of eternal rest at Mount Washington Cemetery. The public lined the streets to say goodbye to a hero.
A police motorcade escorted an AMR ambulance that carried Blaize’s body and was trailed by miles of first responders and police officers from across Missouri and Kansas.
“My son is a police officer,” said onlooker Kay Douglas. “I just wanted to show support to the family and also to the department.”
Douglas is a mom who fears the grief Blaize’s family is going through. She knows first-hand the risk law enforcement officers take every time they walk out the door, praying they come home.
“I know that my son said, ‘Mom, you always said that we are called to serve and this is the way I’ve chosen to serve,’ just like our officers,” she said.
Timothy Courtney was also among the crowd. A U.S. Marine who has been part of too many funeral details like this. He was there to show his support for the goodness, honor and bravery of a young man he never met.
“I’m originally not from here, my son lives here, but I heard about it and I had to come by and see. It brought back a lot of memories,” Courtney said. “I am sad for his loss and his families loss and why anybody would do such a dastardly things is beyond me
It is this kind of support that has helped get Blaize’s brothers in blue, his family and friends through this tragic time.
Support they will need going forward.
On what she described as the saddest day of her life, when she said goodbye to her son, Blaize’s mom said, “Don’t stop saying his name. Tell everyone how amazingly funny he was. Share his love with everyone.”
The community is remembering him and sending that love right back.