Thousands of mourners streamed into a church in Harris County, Texas, on Friday, to remember a sheriff’s deputy whose “execution-style” killing last week shocked his community.
Deputy Darren Goforth was shot in the back of the head last Friday night at a Cypress gas station after filling up his police cruiser. A prosecutor said earlier this week that the suspect, Shannon Miles, then stood over Goforth and unloaded his entire clip, shooting him 15 times.
Goforth, 47, was a 10-year veteran of the force. Miles, 30, has been charged with capital murder for his killing and although investigators aren’t sure what motivated the shooting, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said over the weekend that “our assumption is he was a target because he wore a uniform.”
Friday’s funeral is taking place at the Second Baptist Church in Harris County. Rows of uniformed police officers from all over the country filled the church, as well as hundreds of other mourners. The ceremony will be followed by a flyover of five law enforcement helicopters, The Houston Chronicle reported.
President Obama called Goforth’s widow, Kathleen Goforth, to offer his condolences.
“I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day. They put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable — an affront to civilized society,” Obama said in a statement Monday.
The deputy leaves behind two children. An online fundraiser for the family has raised nearly $250,000.
More than 1,000 people on Sunday flocked to the gas station where Goforth was gunned down, bringing flowers, balloons, and cards in his honor. An earlier vigil for him drew hundreds to the gas station, many of whom said they were there to support police.
Some questioned whether the “black lives matter” movement had resulted in an increased hostility against officers, even those who weren’t unfairly targeting black people.
At a press conference over the weekend, a visibly angry Sheriff Hickman told reporters that “dangerous rhetoric” against law enforcement had “gotten out of control.”
“We’ve heard black lives matter — all lives matter,” he said. “Well, cops’ lives matter, too.”