TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The mayor of Ohio’s fourth-largest city said during a memorial service Tuesday that a police officer shot and killed over the weekend was loyal throughout his life and during his final moments.
“In his last gasp, he demonstrated his truth and loyalty. ‘Tell my family I love them,’” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said, referring to Toledo police Officer Anthony Dia’s final words before he died.
Dia was gunned down in a store parking lot by an intoxicated man holding a beer early Saturday and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Witnesses said the 57-year-old man fled into a wooded area after the shooting, and officers later found him dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Dia, 26, had been an officer for nearly two years and left behind a wife and a two sons.
During the service, Moustafa Rahal, one of Dia’s cousins, read a letter that the officer wrote to his family in the event of his death, The Blade reported.
“Every day I put on the uniform, it was my intention to protect the weak and innocent in my community from evil,” wrote Dia, who was Muslim. “I hope I died with bravery.”
“I know that one day, we’ll all see each other again. But until then, I’ll ask Allah to let me visit you all as much as possible and watch over you as much as I can,” he wrote. “From Allah we come, to Allah we shall return.”
Law enforcement officers from across Ohio and neighboring states were among those who filled an arena at the University of Toledo.
“A family is devastated. A city is hurting. My police department is hurting. And we’re all trying to understand the whys of a senseless murder,” said Police Chief George Kral.
Afterward, residents lined the streets to watch the procession carrying Dia’s body to a cemetery for a private burial.