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Thousands Attend Funeral For Fallen Officer Rafael Ramos

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Thousands converged on a Queens church Saturday for the final farewell to slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, the flag-draped coffin of Officer Rafael Ramos was brought to the Christ Tabernacle Church, at 64-34 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale, Queens, just ahead of his widow, Maritza. She bore the look of grace that comes to one who must be strong for others.

She had to be especially strong for the couple's two sons, Jaden and Justin, who wore his father's NYPD jacket. An officer hugged Justin, Ramos' eldest son, as he arrived at the church.

Thousands of officers were seen up and down Myrtle Avenue, standing at attention when the casket came out. After the casket was placed in the hearse, 500 police motorcycles went by in salute, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

There was also a flyover of 12 helicopters.

"Never have I ever seen anything remotely approaching that at a police funeral," Lamb said. "All of them are impressive – this one especially so."

"Deepest, deepest sympathies," said NYPD wife Nina Ramirez. "My heart goes out to (Maritza Ramos), her sons, her whole family."

Ramirez joined her NYPD husband and young son in the massive crowd outside the church.

And as 1010 WINS' Darius Radzius reported, the streets surrounding the church were packed shoulder to shoulder with men and women in uniform.

"It's amazing, it's actually a little overwhelming; you feel goosebumps," said one woman.

Police officers from Connecticut to California, and even Canada, packed countless blocks, watching and listening to the service.

Ramos' uncle, Augie Romero, himself traveled from Pennsylvania, CBS2's Ilana Gold reported. He was amazed at the outpouring and kindness of strangers, but was still numb.

"I have no words," he said. "I've been in a trance ever since it happened."

The sentiment was common amongst numerous officers. Retired NYPD Officer Sal Sorrentino and his on-the-job partner of 20 years were hit hard by assassinations.

"We watched each other's back, and I'm not going to lie. It was always a fear that maybe we weren't going to make it home. And this hits home. This hits home," Sorrentino said. "God bless him."

Chief Mike Glasser traveled from New Orleans.

"I've been a police officer for 38 years, and I've never seen a response this large," he said.

Officer Brent Moss and Sgt. Mike Grap of the Lawrenceville, Georgia Police Department traveled 13 hours to attend the service.

"It's one big brotherhood," Moss said.

"It makes you think of what's going on in this society, and we have to stick together," Grap said.

More support came from just about every corner, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported. Some workers at a diner where Officer Ramos ate once a week took to the sidewalk for the procession.

"When he looked at you and smiled, you had to smile back," said waitress Teresa Kranacher. "He was just a very sweet man."

They all turned out for a man described as devoted to faith, family, and the city he loved.

The Rev. Adam Durso of Christ Tabernacle called Officer Ramos "a man who never had to raise his voice to gain the respect of the room - because his character and his integrity outshined and shouted louder than any words that could have been said."

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the memorial service, representing a grateful nation. As 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reported, Biden said he never met Ramos and his partner Wenjian Liu, "but I know why they were there. They were there to protect and defend as they always are."

Photos: Officer Ramos Laid To Rest

Biden was the first of many dignitaries to speak at the service.

"Our hearts ache for you," he told Ramos' family.

Biden continued, saying there's little anyone can say or do that can ease their pain, but he hopes they take solace in the fact that 25,000 members of the NYPD will "stand with you for the rest of your life."

Biden then turned his attention to Ramos' two sons.

"You've shown tremendous courage and character," he said, adding that Ramos was very proud of them.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton were also in attendance for the service. Cuomo praised the grace shown by the grieving Ramos family.

"To the Ramos family, I say we thank you, and we honor you," he said before asking the congregants to give the family a round of applause.

The governor praised officers for an "extraordinary job" as they protected demonstrators protesting over the Eric Garner grand jury decision over the last few weeks.

Cuomo said threats to police are an insult to all New Yorkers.

"And an attack on the NYPD is an attack on all of us," he said.

Thousands Attend Funeral For Fallen Officer Rafael Ramos

And behind the barricade at 65th Street and Myrtle Avenue, hundreds of everyday New Yorkers gathered in a show of mourning and respect.

"We are here to support them and let them know we are behind them 100 percent," a mourner said.

The mourners were united in grief, but not in support of Mayor de Blasio. As his eulogy played on a Jumbotron screen, thousands of officers turned their backs.

CBS2's Aiello asked several for comment, and they said the gesture spoke for itself. It represented lingering hard feelings over a perceived lack of support for the NYPD at City Hall.

De Blasio's words about Ramos included praise for the police force.

"He was so committed to the NYPD," the mayor said. "It meant so much to him to be a member of the finest police force in this country."

"On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers," de Blasio extended condolences to Ramos' family and to the NYPD.

"Our hearts are aching. We feel it physically, we feel it deeply," Mayor de Blasio said. "New York City has lost a hero."

Bratton also posthumously appointed Ramos and Liu to Detective First Grade, the highest rank of detective in the department.

"Ramos was a New Yorker, a New York City police officer and he was -- he is -- a hero," Bratton said.

Ramos died just before he was to become a police chaplain. Bratton posthumously appointed him an honorary department chaplain for the 84th Precinct.

"He was the embodiment of our motto: 'fidelis ad mortem,' 'faithful unto death,'" Bratton said. "He represented the blue thread that holds our city together when disorder might pull it apart. He represented the public safety that is the foundation of our democracy. He represented the best of our values—as anyone can see by looking at you, and at your family. But he was also your dad. A good man, who tried hard, and sacrificed, and had a desire to serve."

Crowds Pack Streets To View Funeral For Officer Rafael Ramos

Patrolmen's Benevolent Assoication President Patrick Lynch told WCBS 880's Lamb the support the department has received from all over the country has been "unbelievable."

"Our department's uniforms might be different colors, our shields might be different shapes but the sorrow and dedication is exactly the same," Lynch said. "And we appreciate them traveling so far to stand patch to patch with us for this great family."

Lynch also reminded people there's one more hero to shoulder and asked that everyone bow their heads for Office Liu too, "and return to these streets so we can stand patch to patch again."

New Yorkers who don't carry a badge were in attendance as well. James O'Connell traveled from Manhattan to view the service.

"Terrible tragedy," he said.

PBA President Thanks Officers From All Over For Support

U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the emotion was evident during the service.

"These are tough men, tough women but their hearts are broken today. But I think they got strength and solace from seeing the support that came from literally all over the country," the lawmaker told Lamb.

Rep. Peter King Honors Life Of Fallen Officer

Ramos' son Justin was in the middle of his sophomore year at Bowdoin College in Maine when his father was gunned down one week ago, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"He was my rock, a beacon of wisdom; he was my absolute best friend," said Justin Ramos.

As he spoke about the man his father was, Justin's image was watched on a jumbotron by thousands waiting outside his father's wake Friday night.

"My dad would have been there for everyone and to see so many people here for him is a testament to who he is as a person. It has been so helpful during this time," Justin said.

The Ramos family leaning on that support, not only from friends, but countless officers, community members and even strangers.

For more than seven hours, a steady crowd of people offered their condolences. And even in their pain, they managed a few smiles.

"I'll keep this short and sweet, just like my brother," said Ramos' sister Cindy Ramos.

Outside, people joined hands during the final prayer. More than a few years flowed as the helicopters flew in "missing man formation," and the relentless drumbeat carried through the air as a hero was carried to his final rest.

And hours after the funeral, many visitors and residents did not have to travel far to see a glowing tribute. The Empire State Building bathed in NYPD blue with revolving white and red -- representing squad car lights and sirens -- to honor Officers Ramos and Liu.

And as CBS2's Matt Kozar reported, many officers from around the country who attended the funeral also visited a memorial set up at the very spot where officers Ramos and Liu were shot and killed.

Only a few candles were set up at the scene just after the shooting, but the memorial has grown into an array of religious icons and statues, messages and poetry, and hundreds of bouquets of flowers.

The memorial as of Saturday occupied more than 50 feet of the sidewalk on Tompkins Avenue – protected by a large tent.

Ramos and Liu were killed as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street last Saturday. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later killed himself.

Investigators said Brinsley was an emotionally disturbed loner who started off his rampage by shooting an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore.

He also posted online threats to police and made references to Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

The killings ramped up emotions in the already tense national debate over police conduct.

Funeral plans for Liu have yet to be announced.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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