Thousands of mourners gathered in Houston Friday for the funeral of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth.
Deputy Goforth died on Aug. 28 when a gunman came up behind him at a suburban gas station and shot him in the back while he was fueling his patrol car.
The 7,000-seat Second Baptist Church in West Houston filled to capacity for the funeral. Thousands more mourners watched a broadcast of the ceremony in nearby annexes of the church. The service was followed by an outdoor “end of watch” ceremony that included a 21-gun salute, a procession with a riderless horse, and a police helicopter flyover.
Goforth will be buried in a private ceremony later this afternoon. The deputy is survived by his wife and two children, ages 5 and 12.
Kathleen Goforth described her husband, in an interview with local station KTRK, as “an incredible, intricate blend of toughness and gentility.”
“He was who you wanted for a friend, a colleague, and a neighbor,” she said.
Police and law enforcement personnel from as far away as California and New York attended the public service earlier this afternoon, where community members and Goforth’s colleagues recounted stories of the deputy.
Roland De Los Santos, a lieutenant with the Houston Police Department, described Goforth as “a loving husband and father.” Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said during a eulogy that Goforth “was one of the good guys.”
Sgt. Shannon Bowdoin, the chaplain for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, told the Goforth children in a speech during the service that they “just inherited 4,000 surrogate parents. You are not going to walk alone.”
A GoFundMe page for the Goforth family had raised over $260,000 as of Friday afternoon. The creator of the page said all donations will go to his wife and children.
Thousands of people expressed support on social media, with some using the hashtag #BlueHouston to show their support for Goforth and law enforcement in general.
Others used the hashtag #WeHaveYourBack, referencing how Goforth was shot in the back.
Shannon J. Miles has been charged with murder in the killing of Goforth. The deputy was shot a total of 15 times, authorities said.
“I have been in law enforcement [for] 45 years,” Sheriff Hickman told CNN. “I don’t recall another incident this cold-blooded and cowardly.”
Mr. Miles does not plan to plead guilty, and told his lawyers he was not involved in the shooting, according to Anthony Osso, his court-appointed attorney. Miles was judged to be mentally incompetent to stand trial on a 2012 felony assault charge. He will undergo a psychological examination as part of his background investigation, Mr. Osso said, according to CNN.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.