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Lee's Summit police officer killed at Californos ‘created a better world,’ mourners told

Killed in a Westport restaurant, Lee’s Summit PD officer Thomas Orr III laid to rest

Lee's Summit Police officer Thomas Orr III was shot and killed on August 20th while off-duty as an innocent bystander at Californos restaurant in Westport. Funeral services took place Thursday morning for Orr, who worked as a school resource offic
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Lee's Summit Police officer Thomas Orr III was shot and killed on August 20th while off-duty as an innocent bystander at Californos restaurant in Westport. Funeral services took place Thursday morning for Orr, who worked as a school resource offic

For the first few days at Campbell Middle School in Lee’s Summit this month, Officer Thomas Alvin Orr III stood near the entrance ready to greet students as they walked past.

One by one, the students slapped the hand of their new school resource officer.

On Thursday as students sat inside Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, the Rev. Dale Beasley stood on the pulpit and called up the students to give him one more high five in honor of Orr.

“What impact will you leave?” Beasley said. “I believe he left an impact.”

The sanctuary exploded in applause as Beasley gave each student a high five as he walked past them.

Almost 600 friends, family members and fellow officers gathered at the church in Lee’s Summit to bid farewell to Orr who was fatally shot Sunday druing a party at Californos restaurant in Westport.

“I see white children. I see black children. I see all nationalities represented here. If there is anything that we can do as a people, it is leave an impact on our community on everybody. That’s the goal.”

Orr was remembered as a devoted brother, friend and son. Orr also was praised for his commitment and service as a police officer.

Orr, 30, was off duty on Sunday when he was gunned down. Police said Orr was not the intended target. He was an innocent bystander.

Witnesses said that Orr took photographs at the party.

Kansas City police said there were more than 200 people who attended the party on Sunday but investigators have only spoken to a few of them.

Kansas City police continued their investigation into the shooting Thursday. Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Before the memorial service, a pair of police stood guard around Orr’s coffin, adorned with flowers, an Omega Psi Phi fraternity crest and an encased American flag. More than 75 of Orr’s fraternity brothers conducted a memorial service prior to the funeral. Orr was initiated into the fraternity as an undergraduate student at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Orr will be buried in his hometown, outside of Chicago.

Outside the church, several American flags graced the entrance to the church parking lot. A woman who declined to be identified stood alone to honor the funeral procession.

Inside the sanctuary, a large contingency of police and other law enforcement officers attended the ceremony.

Orr had been with the Lee’s Summit Police Department since March 2015 and began assignment as a middle school resource officer on Aug. 14. Before that, he had worked for the Marshall, Mo., Police Department.

During the funeral service, Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes joked about how Orr would push the envelope and challenge department policy by wearing a high top fade hairstyle as well as goatee that was a bit too long.

“But I’ll take that goatee as long as I can take that heart,” Forbes said during a tribute.

Orr made a positive impact on the department during his short tenure. His work with schoolchildren was exemplary. Yet, Forbes said, Orr faced many challenges of being an African-American police officer. While all officers face struggles with some disrespectful residents, he endured the added burden of racism as well as criticism from some of those who share his race.

“He created the world he wanted,” Forbes said. “He created a better world, a world that I want to live in, and you don’t have to be a police officer to do that. We all can do that.

“But thank God there are officers like Thomas Orr.”

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar

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