Arizona Department of Safety motorcades arrives at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza for a vigil honoring fallen trooper Tyler Edenhofer, July 30, 2018
BrieAnna J Frank, The Republic | azcentral.com
Family members, friends and colleagues gathered at Peoria’s Christ’s Church of the Valley Friday morning to honor fallen Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Tyler Edenhofer.
At 24 years old, he was the youngest DPS trooper to die in the line of duty. His tenure there was brief — he was a rookie nearing the end of his field training when he was fatally shot in a roadside struggle on Interstate 10 July 25.
The church was filled with a sea of law-enforcement officers clad in tan and blue uniforms. Edenhofer’s teammates in Trooper Class 508 sat together at the front of the church. They hadn’t even finished the final weeks of their training before having to attend the funeral of their slain classmate.
While training at the academy, they assured family members that the goal of each day was to make it home alive. Knowing the harsh reality of their chosen profession didn’t make Edenhofer’s death any easier.
“There may come a time where you do everything right and making it home just isn’t going to happen,” said Trooper Hawkins Mann, Edenhofer’s classmate and friend. “Tyler did everything right.”
‘He did everything for me, and now I am broken’
By all accounts, Edenhofer was a loving son to his mother and stepmother, a proud fiancee, a doting brother, a faithful friend, exemplary sailor in the U.S. Navy, and most recently an inspiration to his teammates in Trooper Class 508.
He grew up in Arizona before relocating to Kentucky for his senior year of high school. In the Navy, he was assigned to work as a welder in Guam. There, he met his fiancee, Kaile Sieving.
“He had so much to do. He was just taken away too soon,” mother Debbie Edenhofer told mourners, her face pained. “To my son, I love you so much, baby. Forever and ever.”
Sieving stood silently next to Debbie and placed a comforting hand on the older woman’s back as she spoke. A blue ribbon tied around each woman’s waist stood out against their black dresses.
“He did everything for me, and now I am broken.”
She thanked her family, friends and the DPS for supporting her as she grieved.
Before leaving the stage, Debbie said she hoped for one thing: “May justice be served.”
The funeral procession for fallen DPS Trooper Tyler Edenhofer walks out of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria on Aug. 3, 2018.
BrieAnna J Frank, The Republic | azcentral.com
A job full of risks
Edenhofer was shot and killed last week after a man managed to gain control of another trooper’s gun. The man has been arrested and charged with first-degree homicide.
Images of Edenhofer in his dress uniform were displayed on a large screen above the pulpit.A photo slideshow featured hundreds of candid moments and milestones from Edenhofer’s brief life. Flower arrangements lined the stage.
Col. Frank Milstead, the DPS director, acknowledged the crowd’s size packing the massive church. Church officials estimated more than 3,000 people were in attendance.
“There are few events that unite an occupation, galvanize a community or rally a state, Milstead said. “The murder of an Arizona state trooper is one of those events.”
Milstead thanked his troopers for protecting their communities despite the immense risk the job entails.
“There is no higher calling than to serve one’s community, and Tyler served both his country and the state of Arizona at the highest level.”
Thomas Leslie said his soft-spoken cousin was always the man everyone wanted to be.
“He was humble, funny, respectful,” Leslie said. “And, my God, was he good looking!”
‘Willing to give his life for all of us’
Before the funeral began, close to a dozen DPS troopers on foot escorted a white hearse carrying Edenhofer’s body as it entered church grounds, passing hundreds of other troopers lining the roadway toward the church’s entrance. Shortly after, the hearse stopped and troopers removed Edenhofer’s casket, which was draped with the American flag, and solemnly carried it into the building.
More than 100 troopers were waiting inside the church with either a salute or a hand over their heart. A woman began to weep as the casket passed her.
Gov. Doug Ducey was the first to make remarks at the Friday morning service. He thanked Edenhofer for making the ultimate sacrifice.
“Words fail to express how proud I am to know that such a brave and accomplished man like Tyler was willing to give his life for all of us,” Ducey said. “That’s why I will always consider it an honor that upon graduating from the academy, Tyler Edenhofer shook my hand.”
During the service, Edenhofer’s classmate Trooper Samuel Anspach, recalled the immediate bond the two shared after they learned both men drove a Ford Mustang. Edenhofer was already on his third. The pair would drive to the academy together every day, often leaving as early as 3 a.m. Yet, each morning, Edenhofer’s fiancee would walk him out to Anspach’s car. His mother’s smiling face would greet him when he returned home later that day.
“That’s love,” Anspach recalled.
Following the funeral, Edenhofer’s flag-draped coffin was carried from the church by uniformed officers. His fiancee, mother and step-mother walked closely behind, arm-in-arm with a uniformed trooper. Debbie Edenhofer later clutched that neatly folded American flag to her chest as tears ran down her face while her son’s final call echoed over the speakers.
Hundreds of troopers and police officers braved the sweltering heat to pay their final respects. They lingered on the field for minutes after Edenhofer’s casket was carried away, almost as if they weren’t sure what to do now that one of their own was gone.
The hearse carrying Edenhofer’s body from the church was driven underneath a massive American flag that was hoisted into the sky by the extended ladders of two fire trucks.
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