Hundreds of people filled St. Anthony of Padua Parish Church on Saturday morning to say goodbye to Shawn Mckeough Jr., the 23-year-old Westbrook native who was shot dead while trying to stop an armed robbery in an Arkansas convenience store.
It was standing room only in the large Catholic church on Brown Street, where family members, friends and public officials, including Sen. Susan Collins and Gov. Janet Mills, assembled for a visitation and remembrance ceremony.
The church parking lot was filled and roads near the church were clogged with parked vehicles. A line to greet the family ran the length of the church and programs ran out nearly an hour before the ceremony.
“He was a phenomenal, sweet, sweet guy filled with laughter. He was an amazing young man,” said Tasha Morrison, whose daughter is dating Mckeough’s brother. Like many at the church, Morrison was teary and emotional. Morrison had to start and stop her solo rendition of “Amazing Grace” during the ceremony several times before she found her voice.
Those who presented eulogies talked about Mckeough’s quick wit and love for his friends and family.
Karla and Todd Kent recalled how Mckeough considered them his second family. He had his own bureau drawer and didn’t need to ask to sleep over at their house.
“He was the life of the party. He was meant to be part of our lives. Shawn stole my heart at two years old and never let it go,” said Karla Kent.
Mckeough grew up in Westbrook with his mother and stepfather, Lisa Marie and Ted Hebert, and a younger brother, Kyle Hebert. His father, Shawn Mckeough Sr., lives in Florida.
Mckeough loved sports and played hockey, baseball and football. He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation from Westbrook High School in 2014 and had deployed to Germany, Kuwait and South Korea.
McKeough was a senior airman at the Little Rock Air Force Base. He had been in Arkansas since December and was serving as an aerial delivery operations specialist for the 19th Airlift Wing. He and his girlfriend, Sarah Terrano, were scheduled to buy a house in Arkansas this month.
Four teenagers have been arrested in Arkansas in connection with Mckeough’s murder on March 15.
The Air Force awarded Mckeough a medal for his act of courage in charging the armed robbers. It was presented during Saturday’s ceremony.
Friends Andrew McCarthy and Kiersten Hilton sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in tribute to the summer nights Mckeough and his friends gathered on the back porch at Mckeough’s Westbrook home to sing the popular song.
Brion Langley, Mckeough’s uncle, talked about his nephew’s excitement about his future, love for his family and friends and welcoming hugs.
“I will never take a hug like that again,” said Langley.
After the ceremony a long procession of vehicles drove to Woodlawn Cemetery, where mourners gathered once again for a committal ceremony.
© 2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)
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