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Slain officer Wenjian Liu's story draws busloads of mourners

Pei Xia Chen, wife of Det. Wenjian Liu,

Pei Xia Chen, wife of Det. Wenjian Liu, leaves the funeral for her slain husband Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. He was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Those close to slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu knew him simply as Joe and remembered him Sunday for his gestures of kindness and his role as a peace broker.

And dozens who had never met him were so moved by his story as an immigrant, a son and a police officer that they chartered buses from New Jersey to attend his funeral in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

Sunny Mui, president of the civic group Brooklyn On Fun Association, said outside the funeral home he met Liu five years ago when the officer -- though off-duty -- defused a fight outside his store in Sunset Park.

Liu was well-known in the neighborhood because his wife worked there and he regularly shopped for groceries there.

"We learned that he was a police officer, and we came here today to support him and the NYPD," Mui said. "He protected us, and he brought honor to our people."

Liu -- shot and killed Dec. 20 alongside his partner, Officer Rafael Ramos, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, by a gunman with an anti-police agenda -- was a "patient" man, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said at the funeral.

Liu knew how to make a good soup and pick out a good vegetable, Bratton said. He was close with his parents, calling his father at the end of every tour -- except his last.

"He shared his culture, a culture he was so proud of," Bratton said. "He was, after all, a good man, a humane man. He was a New York City cop."

Liu and Ramos were posthumously promoted to the rank of first-grade detective.

Lily Lei, vice chairwoman of the civic group Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment NY, said Sunday's rain was significant because, according to Chinese lore, "the sky is crying." She herself was moved to tears by the remarks Liu's father delivered in Cantonese at the funeral.

"The Liu family is from my hometown," she said of Taishan in China's Guangdong province. "Hearing the father, we understand that his one and only son is dead. This has broken the family."

Bonnie Liao, 51, of Lawrence, New Jersey, said she traveled with two busloads of strangers who had coordinated on social media to attend the memorial.

"We don't know each other, but we came here for various reasons," she said. "Personally, for me, I'm a mother with a son. I respect and appreciate police Officer Liu's sacrifice."

Liu's younger cousin at the funeral recalled that the officer gave him a Statue of Liberty sticker despite its sentimental value. It marked Liu's immigration at age 12 to New York.

David Gao, 65, of the Bronx, and Alex Wong, 65, of Queens, members of a group that typically gathers for karaoke and traveling, organized a trip to Brooklyn to pay their respects.

"Violence chose him as a target," Wong said.

Members of their group carried signs with Chinese characters telling Liu he is not alone as he makes his way to God, Gao said.

With Emily Ngo, Valerie Bauman and Scott Eidler

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