Emotional release as body of fallen BPD diver is found

Mayor Brown: the Tragedy showed the City at its Best

October 14, 2017 - 8:22 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - As difficult as the last six days have been for the Buffalo Police Department, Mayor Byron Brown says it has shown the best of Buffalo.

The Mayor says he is incredibly proud of the entire Police Department for their "selfless, dedicated work".  Adding, "it was an amazing job under most difficult circumstances".

One member in particular stands out."Lt. Jeff Rinaldo was a Rock, with timely and accurate information".  Rinaldo became the face of the search by holding daily news briefings, often multiple briefings each day on the status of the search. 

Mayor Brown also relayed an important phone call that he received Tuesday.  "I got a call from Vice President Pence who expressed his condolences to me, the Buffalo PD and the community". 

Buffalo Police recovered the missing Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner, according to Buffalo Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo who made the announcement shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

A procession carrying Lehner's body to ECMC prompted some brief traffic closures.

DETAILS & VIDEOProcession in honor of a fallen hero

Lehner went missing during a training mission with Buffalo Police's Underwater Rescue Team on Friday afternoon. At least 19 different agencies searched for the 34-year-old officer.

Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said Lehner was discovered at 1:25pm Tuesday. "Sonar searches last night helped aid in the discovery of Lehner," says Rinaldo. One of the Sonar boats saw an image near the international railroad bridge last night. Today, the Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team went to that scene, and recovered the body there. "At the point they got there, the body was starting to surface," says Commissioner Dan Derenda.

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Rinaldo gives police teams credit. "They conducted themselves as professionals, never once was there any ego or lack of cooperation. Everybody showed up at the foot of Ferry at 7am, saying let's get him home," says Rinaldo. Now, officers are wrestling with the emotions that Lehner's gone, but also proud they've brought him home.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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The dome at City Hall will remain blue Tuesday evening in Lehner's memory. The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority will light the Peace Bridge in blue in honor of Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was in town for a tax reform roundtable, offered his thoughts. "Our hearts are with the family of Buffalo Police diver Craig Lehner, who was missing in the Niagara River. We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. We assure this courageous officer and his famliy will remain in our prayers. The debt we owe to men and women who put on the uniforms who leave their homes and families to protect ours we can never fully repay," says Pence.

Lehner, a nine-year veteran of the force, was a member of Buffalo's K-9 unit and underwater recovery team.

Mayor Byron Brown issued this statement:

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