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Community Prepares Final Goodbyes For Fallen Grand Prairie Officer A.J. Castaneda

GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) - As the Grand Prairie Police Department prepares to say their final farewell to fallen Officer Albert "A.J." Castaneda, a local volunteer organization is raising money for his family.

Officer Albert "A.J." Castaneda was hit and killed last week while running radar on the President George Bush Turnpike.

According to Grand Prairie Police Chief Steven Dye, Officer Castaneda was the salt of the earth. "In his short five years he gave me 50 years of service. He was tremendous," he said.

It is for good reason the community has been eager to display gestures of support. The Back the Blue HQ organization printed t-shirts that are being sold in honor of Officer Castaneda, with 100% of the proceeds going to his family.

With Officer Castaneda's patrol Tahoe covered with flowers and balloons as the backdrop, and beneath the waving Stars and Stripes, the Grand Prairie community lines up to help the family of a man who gave so much.

"Initially it was a shock," said Rosalinda Vela. "I know how hard it is for them to be out there on the streets to do what they do."

Back the Blue organizers say they want to give the community the ability to give back and show their support for Officer Castaneda. "We're just people who are invested in law enforcement, because we see every day the sacrifices for their families."

The t-shirts can be purchased between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday at the Grand Prairie Police station on Arkansas Lane. The t-shirts can also be purchased online.

Two teenage art students at the Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy have come up with a unique and thoughtful way to remember Officer Castaneda. They painted a portrait of the 38-year-old Grand Prairie native that will be on display at his funeral.

Faith Najar, 14, said, "To the officers, I just hope it shows them how our community still cares about our police department." Chief Dye commended the young girls for their work.

The visitation takes place Wednesday, June 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wade Family Funeral Home at 4140 West Pioneer Parkway in Arlington.

Funeral services for Officer Albert "A.J." Castaneda will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 13 at The Potter's House, located at 6777 West Kiest Boulevard in Dallas.

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