WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts native Ashley Guindon is being laid to rest Monday, following a funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Springfield. Guindon was a Prince William County, Virginia police officer who was shot and killed last week on the first shift of her law enforcement career.
The long funeral procession of motorcycles and police cruisers left from the Agawam Funeral Home at around 10:15 Monday morning, crossing the Westfield River into West Springfield, and proceeding down Memorial Avenue. A staging area for visiting police officers had been set up at the Big E fairgrounds. The procession continued over the Memorial Bridge into Springfield before arriving at Sacred Heart for the 11:00 funeral Mass.
Along the route, Agawam firefighters stood at attention outside Town Hall, where they had hung a large American flag from a ladder truck. Springfield firefighters took similar action, hanging a flag from two ladder trucks over the procession route on Chestnut Street, where the roadway crosses Interstate 291 near Sacred Heart.
Hundreds of police officers waited outside Sacred Heart, saluting as the procession arrived. American and state flags, as well as flags from several visiting police departments, wafted in the breeze, as Officer Guindon’s flag-draped casket was carried into the church to the sounds of bagpipes.
The tragedy has hit home for officers in western Massachusetts and throughout the nation.
“Tragic day, it’s a sad day for all of us- for anyone in law enforcement. And to have someone from this area die in the line of duty, it’s just horrible,” Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk said.
“Basically it hit really close to home for me, and this is something I never ever in my life have seen. Such an outpouring not only of family, officers, but officers from all over the East Coast,” Donna Graves of Springfield said.
Following the Mass, the procession crossed the Connecticut River again, this time over the North End Bridge, and continuing down Park Street, Elm Street, and Kings Highway in West Springfield before arrival at Saint Thomas Cemetery, where she is being buried next to her father. West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt encouraged local residents to line the procession route through West Springfield to show their respects to this fallen law enforcement officer. Students from the Cowing School, which was along the procession route, were among those who held flags and saluted the police cruisers and hearse as they passed.
One West Springfield woman told 22News that her brother is a retired police officer, which makes tragedies like this hit close to home.
“Very sad, I even cried. I cry every time I hear something bad like this happen to one of them,” said the woman, who identified herself as Noemi.
Local residents and visitors holding flags stood outside St. Thomas Cemetery as a show of respect, as the hearse carrying Guindon’s body turned into her final resting place.