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Slain NYPD officers are mourned with sad tributes, candlelight vigils

Mourners gather at a makeshift memorial in Bedford-Stuyvesant

Mourners gather at a makeshift memorial in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, to pay their respects to the two officers killed there a day before. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The heartbreaking words from 13-year-old Jaden Ramos to his dad led the sad tributes to NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were fatally shot Saturday in an ambush in Brooklyn.

Jaden, Ramos' son, called it "the worst day of my life."

On his Facebook page, Jaden wrote in wrenching prose about the loss of his father, who was there for him "everyday of my life."

"Today I had to say bye to my father," the post began. "He was the best father I could ask for. It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."

New Yorkers on Sunday attended candlelight vigils and church services in honor of the slain officers from the 84th Precinct.

Ramos, 40, and Liu, 32, were shot at point-blank range as they sat in their patrol car near Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section Saturday.

Liu, a seven-year veteran of the NYPD, had long wanted to be a police officer. He married his wife two months ago. Neighbors recalled his wedding day -- a limo outside, flower girls and the bride in a white dress. Liu was all smiles.

Jonathan Chang, a physician who cares for Liu's parents, said the parents, who lived with their only child and his wife, are originally from China's Guangdong province and are "proud" of their son.

"They are so sorry and in grief. It's so terrible," Chang said Sunday. "They don't eat the whole day. And also just say, 'My son get lost, my son get lost.' That's the only thing they are telling."

Ramos, known to friends and family as "Ralph," logged long hours volunteering -- at his teenage son's school, at church. If he was told to bring one tray of food for an event, he'd bring two, just to make sure everyone had enough.

Ramos, who was married and had another son, had recently finished training with the New York State Chaplain Task Force, a group of interfaith clergy and lay persons that offers spiritual and emotional help to people in crisis.

"He felt that police work was in many ways ministry as well," said the Rev. Marcos Miranda, president of the Brooklyn-based task force. "He felt he was making a difference."

The Rev. Ralph Castillo, the teaching pastor at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, where Ramos was a member for about 14 years, said: "All day today we've been praying for the Liu family and the Ramos family . . . This is a very, very difficult time . . . our hearts are really broken."

Ramos had served as an usher at the 4,000-member congregation and was among one of its most loyal volunteers.

"His consistency and his faithfulness to the church and to his wife and to his children were remarkable," Castillo said. "It's not easy to juggle family and career and be so committed on a volunteer level and do it with so much dedication. He's not the only one, but in light of the circumstances, he was one of the gems that made this place what it is -- a real gift -- and we're going to miss him dearly."

Ramos' cousin, speaking at a vigil outside Ramos' childhood home -- in the same Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, neighborhood where he still lives -- said Ramos "loved" being a cop. Both an NYPD flag and an American flag hung outside the childhood home. Candles were on the ground, adorned with a small arrangement of blue and white flowers.

When Ramos was a school safety officer, "we used to always joke on him, 'Oh you will never be an NYPD,' " Gonzalez said. "He told me, 'I will, one day I will.' "

Sophia He, 30, and her husband work at the deli on the corner from Liu's home in Brooklyn's Gravesend neighborhood. She said Liu would often stop in with his wife and buy lottery tickets.

"I didn't know he was police before," she said. "A very nice guy. What happened is so crazy."

She said she recalled seeing him on his wedding day with a huge smile.

"Every time coming here . . . [he was] happy and with his wife," she added.

Outside of Liu's two-story home Sunday, Steven Angotti, whose family runs a florist shop a couple doors down from the Liu family's house, left a white rose with a blue-and-white striped ribbon to pay his respects.

"He was very quiet, very to himself," said Angotti, 23, adding that he was upset when he found out what happened. "It's right before the holidays, now this poor woman has to go through the holidays like this."

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