(Steven Lane/The Columbian)Buy this photo
(Steven Lane/The Columbian)Buy this photo
If You Go
What: Memorial service for Battle Ground Police Officer Michael Molzahn.
When: 11 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Brush Prairie Baptist Church, 11814 N.E. 117th Ave.
Donations: In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the North County Community Food Bank.
Battle Ground’s typically bustling Main Street fell silent Friday morning.
Beneath the overcast skies, children held American flags as their parents stood by solemnly. Teenagers huddled together and spoke softly to one another. Employees of businesses along Main Street took a break from work to line the sidewalk.
The business signs along Main Street expressed the sentiments of the entire community: “Officer Mike, gone but not forgotten,” “We will miss you Mike. Rest in peace,” “Gone but not forgotten.”
Hundreds of people quietly lined the streets of Battle Ground to honor Police Officer Michael Molzahn. The 41-year-old drowned while boating in the Columbia River on Sunday.
As the red and blue flashing lights of police motorcycles came into view, spectators stopped talking and turned their attention to the oncoming motorcade. Firefighters from Clark County Fire & Rescue and Woodland Fire Department saluted as they stood under a flag suspended in the air by engines’ ladders.
Police officers from Battle Ground, Portland, Beaverton, Ridgefield, La Center, Vancouver, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol drove slowly through town, some wiping tears from their eyes as the community looked on.
The motorcycles of a dozen Patriot Guard Riders rumbled as they followed the police cruisers. A sport utility vehicle towing a Battle Ground Police motorcycle, something Molzahn often rode around town, evoked tears from people standing along the street.
A bagpiper played as the hearse carrying Molzahn’s body neared Layne’s Funeral Home.
In front of the funeral home, a limo stopped and Molzahn’s family stepped out. They consoled each other as they watched uniformed officers line up behind the hearse.
As Molzahn’s colleagues removed the flag-draped casket from the car, family members sobbed and spectators cried. As the bagpipes went quiet, only the sniffles of the crowd could be heard.
Police officers, motorcycle riders, city staffers, city council members and residents exchanged hugs with one another as the crowd slowly dispersed.
The turnout for Friday’s procession was indicative of the impact Molzahn had on the community he served.
“In a small town like Battle Ground, every public employee is known, especially Mike, who was loved by this entire community,” said Mayor Mike Ciraulo, who knew Molzahn through his work as an elected official and as a division chief at Clark County Fire & Rescue.
“There isn’t a segment of this community that Mike didn’t touch in some way,” Ciraulo said.
Battle Ground resident Mandi Laughman saw Molzahn regularly during her morning walks through town. The officer would smile and wave as he drove by. She came to know him better when their daughters played softball together. At the games, they would talk and joke while the girls played.
“It’s a huge loss,” she said. “He was a great guy.”
Laughman’s father-in-law, Dennis St. Clair, grew close to Molzahn during the past year. The pair spent time praying for Molzahn’s family and the entire Battle Ground community, St. Clair said. Molzahn leaves behind his wife, Kim, 17-year-old son, Mitchell, and 13-year-old daughter, Kennedy.
“He was a good, caring man,” St. Clair said. “There isn’t a day that went by that he didn’t pray for his kids and wife. He loved them more than life itself.”
Ciraulo described Molzahn as fun-loving and light-hearted.
“He had a heart of gold,” Ciraulo said. “He loved people, he loved life and he loved his kids dearly.”
He also loved his community.
“He was never off duty,” Ciraulo said. “He was always looking out for his people in this community.”
It’s a sentiment shared by St. Clair.
“When it came to protect and serve, that’s what Michael did,” he said.
Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.