Friends of fallen Nebraska officer remember childhood in Missouri

Childhood friends of fallen Nebraska officer Mario Herrera shared memories Tuesday of growing up in Faucett together.

Posted: Sep 8, 2020 10:08 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 10:58 PM

(FAUCETT, Mo.) Childhood friends of fallen Nebraska officer Mario Herrera shared memories Tuesday of growing up in Faucett together.

The Lincoln Police Department announced Tuesday the funeral of Officer Mario Herrera will take place this weekend. He died Monday at an Omaha hospital nearly two weeks after he was shot in the line of duty.

A procession led by law enforcement agencies from all over Nebraska escorted Herrera’s body from Omaha to Lincoln Monday afternoon. The husband and father of four was an LPD officer for 23-years prior to his death.

As a child, Herrera’s family moved from California to Faucett, Missouri.

“They all came here as California kids. Perhaps not the most thrilled at moving from Los Angeles to a town with now Skateboard parks,” childhood friend Dan Batliner said.

Another childhood friend Lura Landis said she remembered meeting Herrera in elementary school.

“As a young kid, what I remember most is him being really funny, fun, and a little bit ornery which we all kind of where I guess but he liked to laugh and cut up,” Landis said.

Landis, Batliner, and Herrera attended elementary, junior high, and high school in the Mid-Buchanan School District.

“We were all in a band together, we played basketball, and football in junior high,” Batliner said. “We worked in the bean fields and hay fields together. He was just a hardworking, genuine guy.”

Their tight-knit class of 30-35 high schoolers graduated from Mid-Buch in 1988.

“We spent every day together all throughout the school year together and even the summertime,” Landis said. “Even though we may not see each other all the time, we may see each other every other year or every ten years, every twenty years or maybe not at all. But you’ve spent so much time with that person and you have such a connection of all those years that you had experienced together, you grew up together. It’s very difficult, it's like losing a family member.”

After graduation, Batliner and Herrera both went to the University of Missouri-Columbia. Batliner said he doesn’t remember Herrera expressing interest in becoming a law enforcement officer until college but looking back, he was always headed down that path.

“Certainly a very caring individual that would have, it's cliche to say, but really at any point in time, anyone from our group of friends from high school said hey I'm in trouble, come help and that's what he would have to," Batliner said.

Landis and Batliner said they were both shocked when they found out Herrera had been shot and heartbroken when they learned he had died.

“I think we all followed that really closely of how he was fighting for his life,” Landis said. “The public outpouring of good faith and hope and praying and to hear that he had finally succumbed to his injuries was just shocking and sad and a little bit angry.”

Batliner said he had plans with Herrera to catch up in the Spring but then the pandemic hit complicating friendships, work, and our day-to-day lives.

“I think everyone gets these reminders every now and then that time is short,” he said. “I just drove through Lincoln a month ago on my way to Colorado. There wasn’t an opportunity to stop and I said ‘Definitely we’ll get together. In September is when we’ll get together and it’s just shocking to lose that opportunity,’ and sometimes you lose that really quickly and you need to take advantage of those opportunities when you can.”

According to LPD’s Twitter account, the funeral will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. in Lincoln.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Herrera’s family. As of Tuesday, it’s raised more than $147,000.

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A cool forecast is in store for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas this week. Fall-like weather will usher into the area Monday with highs mainly in the 60s and no hazardous weather expected through the week. The area could see its first frost Friday morning as the lows drop into the low-to-mid 30s.
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