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1500 gather to pay respects to fallen city firefighter

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(UPI photo, Bill Greenblatt)
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By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Mayor Francis Slay, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and former Fire Chief Sherman George were among more than 1,500 mourners who gathered at Harris-Stowe State University to pay final tributes to a fallen city firefighter.

Fifteen-year department veteran Leonard Riggins was shot and killed last week when the person he stopped to help after a car accident turned out to be an armed carjacker.

Mayor Slay told the mourners he was angry that Riggins's act of kindness led to the firefighter's death.

"But to honor Leonard Riggins, I will try to remember his hard-purchased final lesson - a good neighbor always stops in the dark to help," Slay said.

Ashley Bell was one of many members of Riggins' extended family who joined with firefighters from jurisdictions across Missouri and Illinois to mourn Riggins. "Your words of advice, your million-dollar smile, your soft hands, your sweet and laid-back personality gave us the true meaning of a hero," she said, choking back tears.

Riggins is the second St. Louis-area firefighter to die in the line of duty this year.

Mapelwood firefighter Ryan Hummert was shot and killed while responding to a truck fire in July.

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