Hundreds gather to mourn slain Ind. corrections officer

"It means a lot to us to come out and show the family that they're not by themselves. We are truly a brotherhood," a CO said


By Mary Freda
The Times

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Hundreds gathered on a gloomy Sunday to honor the life of Lt. Eugene Lasco.

A longtime lieutenant with Indiana Department of Correction, Lasco, 57, died Feb. 21 after being stabbed at Indiana State Prison, where he worked for nearly 12 years.

On Sunday, Lasco received his final call.

"Unit 15, ISP Control. Unit 15, ISP Control. Unit 15, Lt. Eugene Lasco Sr., ISP Control," a solemn voice announced over a radio. "On Feb. 21, 2021, Indiana Department of Correction Lt. Eugene Lee Lasco Sr. answered his final call."

The voice continued, breaking in the middle of the message:

"While assisting another officer who was being attacked, Lt. Lasco was fatally stabbed. There is no greater love than a man that would lay down his life for another. Indiana Department of Correction Lt. Eugene Lee Lasco Sr., unit 15, is 10-42. He has gone home for the final time."

Friends, family and law enforcement officers gathered indoors, and outdoors once the Orak Shrine hall reached capacity, Sunday at the Michigan City hall to say goodbye to Lasco.

An American flag was draped over his casket as it came out of the hall, where Lasco was honored by the dozens, including Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, who attended his funeral.

According to previous Times reporting, Lasco and Sgt. Padrick Schmitt were in a common area about 2:30 p.m. Feb. 21 when inmate Tymetri Campbell, 38, attacked Schmitt and stabbed him multiple times, IDOC said.

Lasco went to help Schmitt, and Campbell stabbed Lasco.

Lasco and Schmitt were taken to Franciscan Health hospital in Michigan City, where Lasco was pronounced dead, officials said. His death was ruled a homicide, LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said.

Campbell was being held on preliminary charges, including murder, Indiana State Police have said. No formal charges had been filed as of Sunday, online records showed.

'Forgotten law enforcement'

After a private funeral service, traditional graveside services were performed at Orak Shrine.

A riderless horse, Wyatt, accompanied by Capt. Dale Thomas of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office, rode by Lasco's casket, signifying the fallen officer looking back on his troops, Thomas said.

Indiana Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Don Weilhammer explained the services, including the folding of the flag, a 21-gun salute and taps and bagpipes being played, were held Sunday, as Lasco is being buried in Decatur, Illinois, on Monday.

"Logistically, it would be next-to-impossible for us all to go into Illinois," he said.

On Monday, Lasco will be escorted to the Indiana/ Illinois state line, where Illinois State Police will take him to his final resting place, Weilhammer said.

Various members of law enforcement, including from IDOC, the Michigan City Police Department and Indiana State Police, were present Sunday, as well as correction officers from across the U.S.

John Bray, a lieutenant with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, traveled to Michigan City on Sunday to pay his respects.

"It means a lot to us to come out and show the family that they're not by themselves. We are truly a brotherhood," said Bray, who also is a commander with the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers.

"People forget about us, they often refer to us as the forgotten law enforcement because when the inmates are prosecuted and locked up, they are forgotten about by most people in society. And then we're the law enforcement, the firefighters and the EMTs that have to deal with those people. Unfortunately, society seems to forget that we're there also."

Bray, who has been an officer for 25 years, said it was good to see such a turnout on Sunday, but "unfortunately, it never seems like there's enough."

"There's a very heavy turnout with the law enforcement and from other departments around the country, and it makes us feel good," he added.

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(c)2021 The Times (Munster, Ind.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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