Detective Brad Lancaster was remembered first as a loving dad and husband to Jamie.
The kind who took the family to games of his beloved Royals, who never missed a chance to play a prank or jump out and scare them. The man who married a woman he knew nearly all his life and called his two daughters, ages 9 and 10, the “loves of his life.”
“He did whatever he could to spend time with them,” said the Rev. Mark Holland, pastor of Trinity Community Church and mayor of Kansas City, Kan., at the funeral Saturday morning for the detective from the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department. “Just this past Mother’s Day, he was barbecuing in the rain. Because he said he would.”
Lancaster, 39, died the next day, shot multiple times by a man whom his fellow officers were pursuing. A detective on the force for three years, Lancaster heard the radio call for assistance shortly after noon.
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Thousands of mourners, including hundreds of officers and other first responders from across the country, gathered Saturday in Children’s Mercy Park — just down the road from where Lancaster was shot — to pay tribute to the man who knew he wanted to be a cop since he was 16.
A bagpipe procession led the casket into the stadium as members of the honor guard stood in formation on each side, saluting as it passed. Kansas City, Kan., officers were seated after Lancaster’s family, which included his mother and sister.
“We share your sorrow and thank you for sharing Brad’s life with us,” Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler said. “There’s no doubt that Brad Lancaster was a hero, not because of how he died but because of how he chose to live his life.”
After high school in Platte County, Lancaster joined the Air Force and four years later became a Platte County sheriff’s deputy as well as a volunteer firefighter.
Lancaster stayed with the sheriff’s office for nine years, working in the detention and patrol divisions, then joined the Kansas City, Kan., force in 2007, graduating as valedictorian from his academy class. He was promoted to detective in 2013.
When the detective responded to the call Monday, “Brad encountered pure evil,” Zeigler said. “He encountered the same kind of evil that has taken so many law enforcement officers’ lives throughout the nation.”
According to authorities, after shooting Lancaster, Curtis Rand Ayers, 28, drove off in the detective’s unmarked car, then carjacked another vehicle with two children inside. He drove to a home in Basehor, Kan., where he took another car and left the children behind unharmed.
Ayers was shot by Kansas City police at U.S. 71 and Bannister Road after he allegedly shot a woman in the shoulder while trying to take her car. He has been hospitalized and charged with capital murder.
Much of Saturday’s 80-minute service centered on stories about Lancaster and his personality, a mix of silliness and fun, with competitiveness and determination.
One of the detective’s closest friends, Officer Chris Blake, encouraged Lancaster to become a Kansas City, Kan., cop. The two, along with their families, have been close for more than a decade.
When Blake heard the call Monday that an officer had been shot, he headed to the hospital. He found out on the way there that it was Lancaster. Blake called home, and his wife got Jamie.
“I was able to get to KU (Hospital), and I met the ambulance when it pulled in,” Blake told mourners. “I was able to talk to Brad, and I held his hand all the way up until they went into surgery. I will be forever grateful for those moments I had with him.”
Years ago the two had worked the same midnight shift and with others created a carpool that is said to have become legendary at the department. In the car, officers got to know each other. That’s where Lancaster’s humor was on display. And his love for Royals baseball.
Officer Sara Janeczko shared a story from one day in the car when she was driving. The Royals were playing that night, and she knew Lancaster wanted to listen but didn’t want to come out and ask. So he dropped hints.
“Does this car have an AM radio?” Lancaster repeatedly asked.
Finally she told him, in words that weren’t so nice, to stop the hints and just come out and ask if he could listen to the game.
He replied, “You don’t have to yell.”
Friends described Lancaster as a jokester who as a volunteer firefighter had some fun at one scene.
“He confiscated the hose from a fellow firefighter so he could soak the rookie cop on the other side of the house,” Holland told mourners. “And then casually handed the hose back so the wet cop could chew out the other guy.”
At home, that playfulness continued.
He loved to carry the girls to bed with flips and tosses, and he made noises with his hand to make his wife think it was the children’s heads hitting a wall.
And he sure loved the Fourth of July, likely for his penchant for blowing things up. One July 4 in Weston he set off a fire bomb that shut down the end of the street.
His friends and family, especially Jamie, still laugh at the time he set the dining room on fire while using a torch to rid the garden of weeds. The fire department was called out on that one.
Jamie and Brad grew up in Weston, living on the same street a block apart. They first met as little kids in day care where Jamie’s “Mammaw” watched them. Holland told those at the service that Lancaster “helped” his future wife get her first spanking.
“He said: ‘Jamie, if Mammaw asks you to do something, you don’t have to do it. You just say, ‘I don’t have to, because you’re not the boss of me,’ ” Holland recited Lancaster saying as a kid. “Jamie gave it a try, with poor results. It must have been love.”
As an officer, his kindhearted side could come out at times too.
While working at Wal-Mart off duty, Lancaster arrested a man for taking a pair of pants and shirt. Lancaster asked the man why he took the clothes. The man told him that his dad had just died and he didn’t have enough money for nice clothes to wear to the funeral.
“Brad went ahead and wrote the man a ticket for theft,” said Detective Andy Seal in a statement read at the service, adding that his friend then paid for the pants and shirt with his own money.
Emotions were hard to keep in check at times.
Commanders’ voices broke as they spoke, and as Detective Danon Vaughn sang “Amazing Grace,” with special words recognizing fallen law enforcement, he had to stop and compose himself. As he continued, tears streamed down his face.
Lancaster’s “dedication to his profession was second to none,” said Scott Kirkpatrick, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4.
On the day he died, Lancaster was still following leads on a 2015 homicide case in which a father is accused of feeding his young son’s body to pigs. He was the lead detective in the case and threw himself into the investigation from the day the remains of the boy, Adrian Jones, were found.
“He became Adrian’s champion, and it nearly consumed him,” said Detective Stewart Littlefield in a statement Holland read at the service.
His fellow detectives now plan to dedicate time to finishing that case.
The chaplain who was at the hospital Monday afternoon after Lancaster was shot talked about sitting with the family.
“Our prayers didn’t work out the way we prayed,” Ken Nettling said. “But Brad is OK, and that’s the part we prayed when we first sat together. … And now we are allowed to be OK.”
Nettling asked officers, most in their dress blues, to join him in saying the Policeman’s Prayer.
As Holland ended the service, he remembered the lighter side of Lancaster.
“Because Brad’s not here to blow anything up, we know, nevertheless, he would want to go out with a bang,” Holland said.
At that point, fireworks from eight large black boxes were set off.
As mourners left the service Saturday, many thought of the two young girls, Brianna and Jillian. Their mother walked between them as they followed the casket out for the burial in Weston.
During the service, Holland talked of what the older one had said the day before.
“ ‘My daddy always put himself before others to make sure that they were safe,’ ” Holland said, quoting Brianna. “Honey, that’s exactly what he did. And that’s precisely why we are here today. He put everyone else before him to make sure that they were safe.”
Three hours after the funeral, a call went out over the police radio.
“Last call for Detective Brad Lancaster, Serial No. 1912. You will never be forgotten.”