Four Oakland police officers who were shot and killed by a wanted parolee on Saturday were remembered today as both heroes and regular people at a funeral service marked by both sadness and humor.More than 18,000 people, including thousands of police officers from around the country, filled the indoor Oracle Arena for the service and about another 10,000 people watched it on a giant screen on the outdoor Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum next door.Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley; and Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord, were honored during the memorial, which was broadcast live on local television stations. Dunakin’s brother, Chris Dunakin, said Dunakin was an Eagle Scout and a community leader but “was also a goofball who liked to party and loved his Jack Daniels.”Chris Dunakin said his brother loved the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, the Ohio State college football team and enjoyed working as a police officer at sports events and concerts at the Oakland Coliseum.Dunakin said his brother “was so proud to be a part of the Oakland Police Department” and “would gladly have taken a bullet for any of the three other officers who were killed on Saturday or for anyone here.”Recalling his brother’s nickname, Dunakin said, “Rest in peace, Dunny – we love you.”Retired Oakland police Lt. Lawrence Eade said Hege was so determined to become an Oakland police officer that he quit his teaching job, attended the police academy without pay due to a budget crunch and worked as a security guard nights and weekends to support himself.Eade said Hege also counseled a fellow officer, telling that officer he had benefited by being adopted by loving parents. Hege encouraged the other officer to adopt a foster child, a step the other officer took.Janet Saalfeld, a friend of Hege’s, said Hege’s career as a motorcycle police officer was foreshadowed when he insisted on getting a turn on a toy motorcycle at a park when he was a small boy.”That was the beginning of his determination to be an Oakland police officer on a motorcycle,” Saalfeld said.Sgt. Rich Vierra recalled that he once tried to impress Romans with a story about being attacked by a baby seal while scuba diving.Vierra said Romans one-upped him by telling how a bear stole a fish from him in Alaska and he took the fish back from the bear. Sakai was remembered by speakers as insisting on working out and running with officers preparing to take a grueling physical test despite being busy with his duties as a patrol sergeant and a SWAT entry team leader.In a message to mourners Oakland police Capt. Ed Tracey said, “We must not allow the selfish and cowardly actions of a criminal to taint our wonderful memory of these officers’ lives.”Tracey told the large contingent of Oakland officers at the service to “stand straight and keep your heads high” because the four slain officers “will be expecting you to carry on your work and lives.”After beginning the service with a prayer, Jayson Landeza of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, the Police Department’s chaplain and the master of ceremonies, read aloud a letter from President Obama in which he said of the officers, “I hope you each take comfort in knowing that their commitment to their fellow man will never be forgotten.”The President said of the four officers, “We will always carry them in our hearts, and their legacy of service will inspire us as we work together toward a better Oakland, a better world.”U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the officers “were among the best to ever wear the badge of the Oakland Police Department” and “we must not let the pain drown out the joy and comfort that these men brought to so many lives.”California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who formerly served as Oakland’s mayor, said the officers “were gunned down in hatred and in anger, but they stand very tall in our hearts, in our memory forever.”Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer also spoke at the service.According to spokesman Paul Rose, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums offered to speak but one of the officers’ families asked that Dellums not be included in the program. However, Dellums still attended the service. Police say the four officers were killed by 26-year-old Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, an ex-felon who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for allegedly violating his parole by failing to meet with his parole officer.Mixon was killed at the end of his confrontation with police.After the funeral service, the officers were honored with a 21-gun salute from a military cannon and a flyover by 20 law enforcement helicopters from around the country.The bodies of the officers were then taken to separate private burials in their home communities.
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