SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Family, friends and former colleagues from several Bay Area police departments gathered Thursday morning to remember Kevin Nishita, a beloved security guard and former police sergeant who lost his life while protecting a news crew from a gunman in Oakland.
Hundreds of attendees took part in the 2 and 1/2-hour memorial service, beginning with a a bagpipe procession that led the family into the San Jose Civic Center at noon Thursday.
Reverend Yushi Mukojima, from the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, led the chanting and incense burning during the Buddhist ceremony.
"It's so difficult to have such a great man taken away from us so suddenly," Mukojima said. "He lived, so that we didn't have to live in fear of violence. He is worthy of our gratitude and we can't thank him enough."
Nishita leaves behind a wife, a stepson and an adopted daughter. His children took the stage to give eulogies.
"He really was like a dad to me," said his daughter Maureen Campos. "He really filled in that protective role of a father."
Campos told the crowd that Nishita and his wife Virginia adopted her after she lost her parents. The couple continued to be there for Campos during her milestones, including her college graduation and when she became a mother.
Nishita's son, Enrique Serrano, spoke about how he admired his father's work ethic and unwavering dedication to the family.
"Growing up my mom used to tell me, 'You're the man of the house,'" Serrano said. "I did my best but I was far from ready to take care of the family. I hope he knows that I'm a better man because of him. Thank you, Kevin, for teaching me to be the man of the house. I'm ready to take care of the family now so get some rest."
In one respect, Nishita was there -- through his own words. He had prepared for his death by writing his own eulogy. It was read by a long-time friend he met in college.
"Hi, my name is Kevin Nishita and I would like to tell you about myself," Scott Lawrie read. "I married Virginia, Gina, we have two children."
Nishita wrote about his childhood, his career and family -- who was surrounded Thursday by Nishita's large circle of friends who they call a "hero."
"In reference to the Squid Games, to my Player 1, we will forever love you my Nishita-san," said Nishita's wife, Virginia.
Nishita was described by Colma police colleagues as a "high energy, model police sergeant" whose nickname was "Turbo" and who made connections easily with community members.
Commander Sherwin Lum said Nishita, who was 5'3", was a "warrior with a heart of lion" but was also known for his antics that brought levity to the Colma police department.
"You're a hero to all of us. You touched so many lives and you knew how to put smiles on our faces. I thank God he allowed us to cross paths. Like a majority of our police departments, I know heaven is short-staffed and in need of more guardian angels. God always seems to pick the best," Lum said.
Nishita served as a San José police officer from 2001-2012. During his time there, he worked as a gang investigations detective as well as working the gaming/vice unit.
San Jose police chief Anthony Mata said Nishita was courageous and always put others before himself up until the day of the shooting, Nov. 24.
"His contagious smile, passion to serve others and an unmatched work ethic embodied the best of all of us. As a patrol officer, gang detective and as a person, Kevin modeled bravery, kindness and dedication helping make San José a better place for everyone."
"It was Kevin's goodness, experience and dedication that prepared him in his final assignment," said Mata.
Nishita was working as a security guard protecting a KRON-TV news crew covering a recent smash-and-grab robbery of an Oakland clothing store when an assailant tried to steal the station's camera equipment.
He was shot as he lay on the ground, suffering a lower abdomen injury. Nishita succumbed to his injuries at 4:39 a.m. on Nov. 27.
Oakland homicide detectives continue to investigate the shooting. They released a photo of the shooting suspect's getaway car but few other details.
Police said the suspect vehicle is a white 4-door 2004 – 2008 Acura TL with a sunroof and no front license plate.
Before his death, Nishita made sure his organs would be donated.
"He was always over the top but it was something you love about him because you could always depend on him," said his daughter Maureen Campos.
During his career, Nishita also provided security for KPIX news crews, who fondly remembered his kindness.
"He was a part of our news family. The loss is just tremendous," said KPIX reporter Maria Cid Medina on Saturday.
She also attended the memorial and posted a tribute to Nishita Wednesday.
A trust fund has been set up to help Kevin's family. If you want to donate:
Kevin Nishita Trust Fund
381 8th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
The account number for the trust is 116020591 with routing number 121141343.
Deposits can be made at any Metropolitan Bank. More information is available at www.met.bank.
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