NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) –  With heavy hearts, a local community said goodbye to one of their own.

Lower Burrell Police Officer Derek Kotecki was shot and killed last week outside of the Dairy Queen on Greensburg Road. He was an 18-year veteran of the force and the unit’s K-9 handler.

Hundreds of people and thousands of law enforcement officials paid their respects Monday morning at Mount Saint Peter Catholic Church in New Kensington.

By the time the horse-drawn hearse arrived at the church, police from across the nation formed an honor guard.

Up to 3,000 officers from as far away as Canada showed up to offer their support. Screens were set up outside the church because of the overwhelming number of people who arrived.

The overflow crowd heard the emotional remembrances from Kotecki’s family and colleagues.

Lower Burrell Police Officer Tim Weitzel had a message for Kotecki’s children.

“Because you’re made of that same strong stuff,” he said. “And you may not feel it now, but you will know that someday soon.”

“He was the guy we wanted to be with,” Lower Burrell Police Officer Tom Babinsack said. “We wanted him to back us up.”

“Don’t be sad,” Kelly Kotecki-Stevenson, the officer’s sister, said. “God just needed another angel in heaven to watch over us.”

Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, a Lower Burrell native, were also in attendance.

“It was a showing of love,” Altmire said. “And the entire community came together.”

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