CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — It was a somber day in central Illinois as hundreds paid their respects to a fallen officer.
Champaign Officer Chris Oberheim died on the job Wednesday. On Thursday, his body was escorted through several cities, from Urbana to Decatur.
Many people described Officer Oberheim as a family man who was always showing up for others.
Strangers, neighbors and those who knew Chris Oberheim came dressed in blue to show their respects as his body was taken to Decatur, where he grew up.
“He’s a very, very good man,” said neighbor Jan Lawson. “He does a great job in the neighborhood. First of all with his family and wife and kids.”
“He’s an outstanding member of the community and very involved and this is what we do in a small town like this, is support everyone and that’s why we’re all here,” said Tim Clifton, Monticello Fire & Rescue. “It’s a sad day for the entire community and the whole United States.”
On Wednesday morning, police said Oberheim was shot during an exchange of gunfire while on duty in Champaign.
He was a husband and father of four; well know in his community.
“I just kept thinking of his kids first because losing their father and then his wife and I just felt remorse of why things like this have to happen,” said Lawson.
People who knew Oberheim said family was everything to him.
“He takes a lot of interest in his kids and the community and I would say when he is coaching, he’s a father to a lot of other girls on the team,” Lawson said.
“His family was the world to him,” said Lincoln Elementary School Principal Mary Vogt. “He would oftentimes…work all night long and then go where his daughters were for whatever events they were doing.”
As the family mourns, the community said this was the least they could do, to show their love and support for a man who selflessly gave of himself.
“As a firefighter–and I’ve been a firefighter for 20-25 years–they’re always there to support us; we’re always there to support them,” said Clifton.
Even through death, they have not left his side.
“We would think of anything less, but to be there for him,” Clifton said.
Oberheim was a police officer in Decatur before joining the Champaign Police Department.
Champaign Police said he will be remembered for his heroism and bravery.