During the funeral Thursday for San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah MacKay, two sheepdogs flanked his best friend, Roger Loftis.
The sheepdogs, Loftis said, held a special meaning for MacKay, the 35-year-old deputy killed last week in a shootout with accused killer Christopher Dorner. Several colleagues who eulogized MacKay ended their remarks with the phrase, "Sheepdog up!"
MacKay was inspired by the animals, which he saw as protectors, said Loftis, who was the best man in MacKay’s wedding. MacKay believed that “good, caring people, people that don’t have a capacity for violence” were like “sheep that needed to be protected,” Loftis said.
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 a violent rampage that left three others dead, came to an end Feb. 12. Dorner died in the shootout from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound as the cabin went up in flames, officials said.
Thousands of people attended MacKay’s funeral at San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino.
“There are people in the world – evil people, evil men – capable of evil deeds,” Loftis said. “Their capacity for violence knows no bounds. And they will feed on the flock without mercy. And then there are the sheep dogs…that live to protect the flock.”
MacKay kept the words of Dave Grossman -- an author and retired Army lieutenant colonel who wrote about the sheepdog symbolizing protection -- taped to a filing cabinet at the office, Loftis said.
To be a sheepdog, Loftis said, “one must have a capacity for violence but a strong love for his fellow man. Jeremiah was a man like that.”