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Funeral set today for deputy killed in Dorner shootout

February 21, 2013 |  8:00 am

A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy killed in a shootout last week with Christopher Dorner will be laid to rest Thursday.

A procession of public safety officials will accompany Jeremiah MacKay's body to San Bernardino's San Manuel Amphitheatre, where a memorial for the 35-year-old deputy was set to begin at 11 a.m. Thousands of mourners were expected to attend.

A private ceremony will follow at a local mortuary, officials said.

PHOTOS: Remembering a deputy

MacKay was hailed as a hero for his actions at the Big Bear-area cabin where the massive manhunt for Dorner, a former police officer suspected of violent rampage that left three others dead, came to an end on Feb. 12. Dorner died in the shootout from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound as the cabin went up in flames, officials said.

For days MacKay, a 14-year department veteran, was involved in the search for Dorner in the mountains around Big Bear.

"We knew he was up there," MacKay's cousin Jennifer Goehring said. "We were praying for his safety, but never in a million years would we have thought this would happen."

WHO THEY WERE: Victims in the Dorner case

MacKay posted photos from the mountains on his Facebook page, joking about how he — who grew up in the San Bernardino Mountains — was one of the only officers wearing short-sleeved shirts in the snow.

On Feb. 9 he told an Associated Press reporter that he knew the danger as he helped scour the mountains for Dorner: "This one, you just never know if the guy's going to pop out or where he's going to pop out. We're hoping this comes to a close without any more casualties."

The next day, he was pictured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, his eyes squinted as he put on a hat. He posted a photo of the newspaper on Facebook, making fun of his facial expression, a friend said.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Capt. Lee Hamblin said he was responding to a report of a gun battle when he heard the call: "Officer down." He said his worst fear was soon confirmed when he learned MacKay had been killed.

"Although we're glad it's over," Hamblin said of the manhunt, "the price we paid was way too high."

MacKay joined the department in July 1998, Hamblin said. He worked in the jails, as a detective at the department's Big Bear station and most recently as a deputy at the Yucaipa station.

He was married to Lynette Quinata MacKay and had a 7-year-old stepdaughter and a 4-month-old son, Goehring said. He was thrilled to be a new father.

Family, friends and coworkers described the deputy as having a big personality, a big heart and a big, loud laugh. It was difficult to be sad around him, they said.

It was MacKay's laugh that first caught Edward Knuff's attention years ago in Liam's Irish Pub.

"He was a little boisterous, always fun," Knuff said.

A regular at Liam's Irish Pub in Colton, MacKay always had a pint of Guinness and a smile, said Yara Alves, the bar's owner. He had Irish roots, and he'd show up, guaranteed, every St. Patrick's Day wearing a kilt and bringing his bagpipe.

"He never had anything sad or negative to say," Alves said. "It was as if he never had a bad day."

ALSO:

Man crashes car into 7-Eleven, pours himself cup of coffee

Canadian tourist found dead in hotel water tank: Accident victim?

Suspect in wounding of 2 deputies commits suicide after SWAT standoff

— Hailey Branson-Potts and Adolfo Flores

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