The wife of police officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in the Planned Parenthood shooting Friday in Colorado, said Sunday that the family will cherish his legacy as a loving husband and father.
"Our loss cannot be expressed in words. While the nation now knows Garrett as a hero who gave his life for others, he was also a devoted husband of 17 years and a wonderful father to his two children," Rachel Swasey said in a statement.
Garrett Swasey, a 44-year-old Melrose native, was shot to death during a firefight with alleged gunman Robert L. Dear, 57, who officials say stormed the clinic and opened fire, then holed up inside for hours before surrendering.
Two civilians were also killed, and at least nine people were wounded.
Rachel Swasey said her husband was passionate about his family, his church, and his profession.
"We will cherish his memory, especially those times he spent tossing the football to his son and snuggling with his daughter on the couch," she said.
Garrett Swasey moved to Colorado in 1989, after graduating from Melrose High School, to pursue his passion for figure skating. He joined the police force at the University of Colorado campus in Colorado Springs six years ago.
"After a successful career in ice skating, Garrett found his calling as a police officer. Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him," Rachel Swasey said. "In the end, his last act was for the safety and wellbeing of others and was a tribute to his life."
The family thanked the public and asked that people pray for their family and everyone who was affected by the shooting.
"What we need most today, and in the coming weeks, is your prayers for our family and for others who were impacted by this tragedy," the statement said. "We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love that has come from the community and across the nation."
She added: "We understand this is a public tragedy felt by many and we also appreciate your support for us to grieve privately."
Although Swasey's funeral costs will be covered by the police, officials in Colorado Springs said a fund raiser has been set up to collect money for his children's education. As of Sunday evening, more than $77,000 had been raised.