Chandler officer’s death ‘a big loss for our community’ SanTan Sun News

Chandler officer’s death ‘a big loss for our community’

May 9th, 2021 STSN Staff
Chandler officer’s death ‘a big loss for our community’
Community
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Two days after Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar was killed by a wanted fugitive, hundreds of mourners assembled outside Compass Christian Church to remember a friend who was described as a hero, warrior and all-around good guy.

Plenty of candles were lit and tears were shed as friends of Officer Farrar gathered on May 1 to memorialize his 18 years of service to the Chandler community.

More tears likely also were shed Saturday, May 8, as the officer was laid to rest after a memorial service at Compass Christian, which occurred after the SanTan Sun News’ deadline.

Officer Farrar, 50, died the evening of April 29 after he was run over by 25-year-old Jonathan Atland at the end of a chaotic car chase that began in Eloy and ended in Gilbert.

Gilbert Officer Rico Aranda was severely injured when he was struck by a parked car Atland had hit at San Tan Ford on Val Vista Drive near the Loop 202 Santan Freeway. At least four state troopers and a custodian also were slightly injured before Atland was taken into custody.

Mourners on May 1 remarked on the cruel irony that Officer Farrar had not been expected to work on the night of his death.

Chandler Police Detective Tom Schuhrke said Officer Farrar, who had recently been assigned to the Chandler Police K9 United, was working a relief shift for an absent employee.

It was something Officer Farrar often did because it was his nature to serve the department whenever help was needed.

“He didn’t have to be there that night,” Schuhrke noted.

Officer Farrar’s kind, generous nature was a recurring theme among all the anecdotes that were shared by the large crowd of grieving officers and civilians.

It also was mentioned within hours after his death when Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan held a pre-dawn news conference April 30 to announce the loss of his man.

“Every day he came to work, he made a difference,” an emotional Duggan said. “In the course of 18 years, he touched many lives.

“So I just ask that you keep Chris’ family in your prayers and just take a moment and remember and be mindful of the brave men and women who are out there daily helping to keep our community safe.”

Officer Farrar was described as a dedicated public servant and his work was acknowledged in 2010 after his agency honored him with its “Community Service Award.”

He held multiple positions throughout the department during his career, including the patrol division and bicycle team prior to his assignment to the K9 unit – a job those who knew him said he had long sought.

“Christopher received numerous commendations and accolades from community members, business owners, co-workers, and supervisors during his career,” the department said in a release.

“He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor in 2004, the Community Service Award in 2009, the Spotlight Award in 2019, and a four-time recipient of the Lifesaving Award.”

Noting that the slain officer is survived by his mother and father, brother, sister, daughter, two sons and grandchild, the department release also stated, “He was a son, brother, father, uncle, grandfather and dedicated police officer.”

Tributes and expressions of sympathy for Officer Farrar flooded social media within hours after his death was announced.

“It’s just tragic,” said Chandler Councilman Matt Orlando. “These guys and gals put their life on the line every day and we just got to keep supporting them and making a better police force.”

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, other City Council members and county Supervisor Jack Sellers all expressed condolences.

Police departments across Arizona lowered their flags half-mast and paid tribute to him, as did numerous local and state officials.

Ordinary citizens also posted numerous expressions of grief and gratitude.

“My heart aches for the family of this officer,” wrote a man on a Gilbert community Facebook page. “These men and women are true heroes. They wake up every day and put their life on the line to protect and serve. May he RIP.”

Attendees at the May 1 memorial recalled Officer Farrar’s willingness to volunteer for church activities or to offer his mentorship to aspiring police officers.

He was always full of energy, Schuhrke said, and seemed to embody the eagerness of a manic cartoon character.

“He was like Speedy Gonzales,” Schuhrke said. “There were no slow speeds for him – 100 miles an hour all the time.”

“It’s a big loss for our department,” Schuhrke added. “It’s a big loss for our community.”

Officer Kyle Liggitt credited Officer Farrar with making him a better police officer by always offering helpful advice and support.

Officer Farrar was quick to share his policing experiences, Liggitt said, or take a moment to check in with a rookie officer who had just joined the force.

“He had just this ability to find newer, younger officers and to just give them wisdom and to make them better officers,” Liggitt added.

Everyone in the department has spent the last few days asking lots of “what if” questions, Liggitt said, and contemplating whether Officer Farrar’s life could have been saved if different steps were taken on the night of the incident.

“All of us at this department are hurting,” the officer said. “But we also know that, unfortunately, this is part of our job.”

The group of mourners included members of law enforcement from various agencies, church leaders and elected officials who wanted to publicly express their support for the officer’s family.

Chandler Vice Mayor Mark Stewart tried to hold back tears as he emotionally conveyed his sympathy for everyone who will miss Officer Farrar.

“We know Chris is a hero and his name needs to be celebrated,” Stewart said. “He is a true hero.”

Friends described Officer Farrar as having an endearing curiosity for spirituality and would often lean on his faith to get through the grueling work of a cop.

Pastor Brian Jobe said Officer Farrar’s sudden death has struck a “brutal blow” on his church community and offered the services of his church’s counselors to mourners who may be struggling with their grief.

Compass Church additionally set up a memorial in their courtyard that allowed mourners to drop off flowers or to write notes to the fallen officer.

Tim Kennedy said he met Officer Farrar at Compass Church a couple years ago and quickly got to know the officer by going on a ride-along with him around Chandler.

Officer Farrar loved to share his policing work with members of the public, he said, and demonstrating what the job really entailed. But beyond policing, Officer Farrar seemed the proudest while praising the accomplishments of his family.

“Chris loved his mom and dad,” Kennedy said. “He talked about them all the time.”

Some friends noted Officer Farrar’s continuous willingness to help someone out during a time of need.

“There will never be another Chris Farrar,” said friend Susan Simmons.

She described him as her “lifeline” in Arizona after she relocated to Chandler several years ago. Officer Farrar would always come to her house to fix something or to help with a project he did so without complaining, Simmons said.

“I’m going to miss this man with everything I have,” she added. “He will never be forgotten for all the things he did, the people he helped.”

A fundraising effort has been launched for Officer Farrar’s family by The 100 Club, which helps the families of officers killed in the line of duty.

It can be reached at 100club.org/donate.

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