Slain SWAT Officer Remembered

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A life well lived. Those words echoed throughout the memorial service Friday for fallen Los Angeles Police SWAT officer Randy Simmons, who was killed last week in a standoff.

Simmons was the first SWAT team member killed in the line of duty since the special weapons and tactics team was formed in 1967.

The 51-year-old  had such a powerful influence on his community that a 10,000-seat worship center was filled by his family, friends, and comrades to celebrate what his pastor called "a life well lived."

Officers marched to bagpipes as they escorted the funeral processional into Los Angeles' Crenshaw Christian Center. Fellow officers saluted and civilians put their hand over their heart as the casket passed them.

Simmons leaves behind a close-knit family including his wife Lisa and their children Matthew and Gabriel.

The service included dignitaries, fellow officers, former college football buddies, family and ministry friends. All of them a witness to the man's priorities: loving God, his family, and fellow man.

The funeral procession and service was carried live by most of the television stations in LA, was streamed live and linked to by many organizations including CBNNews.com

A Son Speaks through His Pain

"This is a special message to my Daddy," Simmon's teenage son, Matthew, said.

Of those who spoke, Matthew had some of the most powerful memories and words to say about his father.

"My dad is a very special icon in my life. On the outside people would assume he was a very stern and aggressive man," he said. "However my father was a very loving caring and spiritual man."

"He taught me very important lessons in life. He always wanted me to do the best in my life no matter what it was. My dad was a football fanatic but he always wanted me to put God and school first."

Matthew pressed on through tears to talk about that fateful day when he last saw his father alive.

"Before he went on that SWAT callup, the first thing we did, and it was the last thing we did together, was to pray around his bed. I love my daddy with all my heart and soul," he said. "His spirit and legacy will not only live on in me forever but in all of us as well."

"Christianity wasn't a religion, but a way of life for my father and that's what it should be for all of us," Matthew said. "I thank God for my Daddy, for giving him to me... and I will see him again in heaven."

A Glorious Example in His Community

Those who knew Simmons through his church and ministry knew him as a giant of a man with an even larger heart.

"He was a big man, played football. Caught bullets with his teeth," Glory Kids minister Patrick Davis joked affectionately.

"But he was a man who loved Jesus, his family and the children of Los Angeles. Randy would break down crying for the kids of the streets, rocking, crying, yelling at us, 'We gotta get out there," Davis stated pointing out Simmons heart for children.

Simmons started the Glory Kids ministry to the disadvantaged children of Los Angeles. It quickly grew much bigger than what Simmons could handle alone, impacting thousands of children.

Davis, who was personally influenced by Simmons and the Glory Kids ministry said it will continue to grow with the help of those who loved and respected Simmons.

"I'm going to challenge each and everyone of us, especially the police officers, we gotta take care of these children for Randy," he said.

Respected Among His Peers

LAPD Chaplain Kenneth Crawford called Simmons a "truly remarkable hero." In an opening prayer he said, "Randy shined for you with his love for his fellow man. He became a father to the fatherless, hope to the hopeless."

James Hart was Simmons partner for eight years.

"I never had a brother, but Randy was my brother. He was my partner," he said. Hart went on to tell several funny stories about his partner and friend.

"We called him Reverend, affectionately, because of his knowledge of the Word," Hart recalled. "The respect for Randy was the upmost. He'd come into the gym, and some of the guys might be talking about their wife... He'd ask what they were talking about, and the fellas would change the subject to a car they needed to fix."

"He was such a beautiful man, a brother, a friend to all of us. We will miss him but he lives on in us." Hart concluded.

Honored by Leaders

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of many dignitaries attending. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also spoke.

"This is the first time I had to suffer the loss of a police officer. It touches a nerve way deep in our souls and it hurts," Villaraigosa said. "I've thought a lot over the last few days about why. I think the whole city loses when we lose a police officer. We lose a small piece of ourselves and what our community is all about."ed.

He expressed sympathy to Simmon's widow, children, parents, and extended family.

"Know that you are in our prayers, you are in our hearts, and above all you have our eternal gratitude for sharing the life of a son, husband, and father," he said.

A Rock Until the End

The veteran police officer was killed last week when he entered a house during a standoff with a man who had already killed several of his family members. A sniper later killed the 20-year-old man, Edwin Rivera, before he could shoot anyone else.

Fellow SWAT team members nicknamed Simmons "The Rock" for his dependability and excellence at what he did. A former partner said that Simmons looked out for them and organized dangerous assignments so well that he almost seemed invincible. Officers said they always felt safe with him.

Investigators still aren't sure exactly what went wrong on the Feb. 7 call-up by the SWAT team. They say even the best officers can become victims of stray bullets in such situations.

Do You Know Randy's Jesus?

Simmons pastor, Alton Trimble, concluded the near four-hour long service with a message on living life with passion and inviting those attending to know "Randy's Jesus."

"I want to talk to you about Randy's Jesus," he said "One thing everybody knew about Randy was that he was in love with Jesus Christ."

Referencing King David from the Bible he added, "David was a king, but more than that, he was a worshipper. Randy was a SWAT officer, but more than that,he was a worshipper. And I know if he could, he'd invite you to be a worshipper with him."

Trimble spoke of how men like King David and Randy Simmons lived their lives with passion.

"Everyone of us is going to have an appointment with death," he said. "The fact that we are going to die should cause our lives to reflect a passion for something. You have to have passion about your life, about your job. Randy had a passion to save one more child... one more person."

Pastor Trimble ended his sermon with a call for people to raise their hand if they wanted to "know Randy's Jesus." As hand after hand raised across the mega worship center -  more than "one" did just that.

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Donna Russell

Donna Russell

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