Rafael Ramos, one of the two New York City police officers killed by a lone gunman last week, was a deeply spiritual man with a heart for ministry, and was to graduate as a lay chaplain that day, mourners recalled as his wake was held at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens Friday.
A police honor guard brought Ramos' casket into Glendale church in New York for an afternoon wake Friday, according to CNN.
A funeral service will be held Saturday morning which is expected to be attended by about 25,000 police officers from around the country. Vice President Joe Biden, NY Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton will be among the speakers.
On Dec. 20, the day Ramos, 40, was murdered, he was to graduate as a lay chaplain in a program that involves training to deal with people in crisis.
"He told me that his job even with the NYPD, he felt he was doing God's work," the Rev. Marcos Miranda, president of the New York State Chaplain Task Force, told Arise America.
"He felt that he was protecting and serving his community and that was a sort of a ministry for him. And I totally agreed with him," Miranda said. "He said this type of ministry, the chaplaincy, he could see himself doing this in the future as a full-time ministry after he retired from the NYPD."
Ramos had "the kindest eyes you could see" which "radiated kindness and compassion," Marcos added.
"He loved God and he loved humanity," Miranda told Huffington Post. "He thought being an NYPD officer was like doing ministry to God by protecting and serving your community."
"You don't become a chaplain unless you want to be of service to humankind," Miranda added. "[Ramos] really felt a calling to share in others' suffering ... He had the potential to be a great chaplain."
Ramos was active in his church.
"He was a humble man and was willing to help at any capacity; helping people to their seats, moms with their baby carriages or the elderly in and out of our elevator," congregation's executive pastor Rev. Adam Durso was quoted as saying.
Services for Officer Wenjian Liu, 32, who was also killed on Dec. 20, are yet to be held.
The two officers were killed at close range as they sat in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in a likely revenge for the police chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
Soon after the shooting, the suspect, identified as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, fled to a nearby subway station, where he was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Demonstrations against the New York Police Department have been taking place since Dec. 3, when a grand jury failed to indict a white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, who was killed in July while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. This came weeks after a Missouri grand jury also decided not to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of a black teen, Michael Brown.