Thousands say goodbye, pay their respects to Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer

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CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - It has been an excruciating week in Chicago as a senseless murder stole the life of a high-ranking Chicago police commander.

On Friday, there was a steady line of thousands of people wanting to say goodbye to commander Paul Bauer and show support for his family.

Today would've been the Bauer's 16th wedding anniversary.

On Friday afternoon, fellow officers carried Paul Bauer’s body into the Nativity of Our Lord church.

Then, the crowds began to form with the line wrapping around the block.

Thousands of people stood in line - friends, strangers and police officers from across the country.

Commander Paul Bauer was 53 years old and on the force for more than three decades. The husband and father was shot and killed in the line of duty in downtown Chicago.

Everyone who met the commander seemed to love him.

"He used to come to J and J Car Wash and have his car washed all the time, and that's how we became friends that way,” said Gayle Jasas.

For commander Bauer, a ceremonial prayer - beginning with a procession led by Mayor Emanuel and Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson - was delivered, followed by command staff, the officers from the commander's 18th district and Illinois State Troopers.

As night fell over the church, mourners stood strong, waiting hours to get inside.

Hoping to say thank you and goodbye to one of Chicago’s most beloved police commanders and show support for his wife and daughter.

"Hopefully it’s a memory in a good way that his daughter can carry with her,” said Monica Silva.

The visitation went from 3 to 9 p.m.

Preparations are being made for commander Bauer’s funeral and the procession that will follow.

As the city prepares to lay the commander to rest, the Chicago skyline is lit in blue -- a signal of support for the entire department.

Bauer’s funeral processional will travel through Morgan Park where he also served as sergeant of that district during the 90's.

Businesses are tying blue ribbons to poles in a show of support -- a salute to Chicago police and their slain commander Paul Bauer.

The procession route will travel from the funeral home in Bridgeport to the cemetery, going east on Pershing Road to the Dan Ryan.

From there, it will take I-57 and exit onto 111th Street, passing this gas station where on Friday 19th ward Alderman Matt O'Shea held a fundraiser supporting city police.

“The men and women of the Chicago Police Department know that the entire city is standing with them,” said Alderman Matt O’Shea.

It's the 4th year O'Shea is holding the fundraiser, benefitting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s effort to help officers get new bulletproof vests. Twenty-five cents on every gallon went toward the effort.

“They put a lot of time and energy out there to keep us safe and I think we need to give back,” said Claire Lagalia.

A huge turnout is expected along the procession's route. The city's police superintendent is encouraging people across the Chicago area to attend.

“Try to dress in blue and that will show the family the support that we need right now,” said Supt. Johnson.

People are also being asked to hold city, country and CPD flags.