Family members, the chief of police, the mayor and the governor spoke at the funeral service for a San Diego police officer killed in the line of duty.
Hundreds of law enforcement vehicles stretched from Mission Valley to Liberty Station in Point Loma in honor of San Diego police officer Chris Wilson who was shot and killed Oct. 28.
“To be honest, I never thought that a day this tragic would come so soon,” the officer's son, Conner Wilson, said during the service. “I never believed for one second that when everyone in the country would hear about a police officer shot and killed, that it would be my father.”
Mourners were ushered into their seats single file at the Rock Church Thursday morning while images documenting Wilson's life displayed on the stage. The pictured captured moments when the father of two enjoyed his family, his colleagues, sports, etc. A large floral arrangement of yellow flowers stood on the stage with a banner "Your sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Wilson's son led pallbearers as they carried a flag-draped coffin inside. During the ceremony, he told mourners about difficult times he shared with his father. The two didn't speak much for two years until Conner decided to reach out and mend their relationship.
“I still feel like one of these days I’ll get a call or text from him telling me how much he loved me because that’s what he would do,” Conner Wilson said. “I just wish I could tell him that I loved him one more time.”
Wilson's daughter, Kaylee, described how she and her father had recently spent hours discussing her future.
“If I could tell my dad one more thing, other than to tell him how much I love him and I miss him, it would be that I will be okay and it’s because of his love, strong morals and good character,” Kaylee Wilson said.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined mourners inside the sanctuary that holds approximately 3500 people. “I always say people like Chris are the real action heroes,” Schwarzenegger told the family and friends. “We will never forget his selflessness, his service, his great dedication and his sacrifice.”
During the eulogy, Chief William Lansdowne told a story relayed to him by Wilson’s mother of a moment when a young Chris started a fire with a magnifying glass. After firefighters arrived and chastised Wilson, he decided then and there to stop dreaming of being a firefighter and instead started thinking of a career in the police department, according to Lansdowne. The church filled with laughter.
“This work that we do is 90 percent reports and boredom. It’s 5 percent adrenaline rush and 5 percent pure terror,” Lansdowne told the audience filled with law enforcement officers from all agencies.
The funeral was the first for a San Diego police officer since 2003, after motorcycle officer Terry Bennett was killed when he was rammed during a pursuit. At Bennett's funeral, 2,500 people, many of them strangers, came to pay their respects.
Of course, not every officer on the San Diego police force will be able to attend the services. To make sure as many officers who want to be there can attend the services, other agencies are offering up resources to fill in.
Department officials said Wednesday that it was their plan to get through the services and then take a closer look at what happened in an official review of the incident.
An assistant police chief told NBCSanDiego that they would wait for the D.A's office to release an independent review of the incident and then take a closer look at their policies, procedures and training to make sure there isn't something else that could've been done. The chief also said that police officials still have not gotten to the point of sitting down with the other agencies involved in that operation to do in-depth review.
Wilson, a 17-year veteran of the force, died Thursday, Oct. 28, from wounds suffered in a shootout with suspects holed up inside an apartment in the Skyline area.
The San Diego Police Officers Association has set up a trust fund for Wilson's family. Checks can be made payable to the SDPOA Charity Fund. Write Officer Wilson in the memo line. Any donations (100 percent) will go directly to the family. Donations can be mailed to SDPOA, 8388 Vickers St., San Diego, CA 92111.
Watch: Moving tribute to Officer Wilson
Watch: Remembering SDPD Officer Chris Wilson
Watch: Raw video of the arrival of Wilson's casket
Watch: Tracy Wilson addressing the church
Watch: Conner Wilson addressing the church
Watch: Wilson Family Speaks About Their Loss