CHARLTON (CBS) — Hundreds of police officers from across the state and nation attended a wake for slain Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Thursday.
Tarentino was shot and killed early Sunday morning by 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano when he pulled Zambrano over during a routine traffic stop. Tarentino was a husband and father of three.READ MORE: Massachusetts Reports 1,283 New COVID-19 Cases, 25 Additional Deaths
His wake was held at St. Joseph’s Church. A private viewing for family, as well as Auburn and Leicester Police, was held from 12-to-2 p.m.
The restored black Mustang Tarentino loved so much could be seen parked in front of the church, which wasn’t the family’s typical church but the service was held there because the site was large enough to accommodate all the mourners.
Law enforcement officers completed a walk-by for Officer Tarentino Thursday afternoon.
Auburn Fire Chief Stephen Coleman was among the first to file into the church to offer his condolences.
“The police and fire departments in Auburn, we’re very close,” he said. “This is our family, and when our family is hurting, we’re here for them.”
Thursday morning, Tarantino’s casket was taken by police procession to the church. The cruiser he was driving when he was killed followed behind.
Officers from the Auburn police saluted as his casket was driven past their department headquarters.
“It’s part of the closure process, the beginning of the closure process,” says Auburn Police Sgt. Scott Mills. “We’re just going to celebrate Ron’s life and move forward.”
Mills remembered Tarentino as “just a good guy.”
“We all know the risks, and we all know that this is part of it, part of the possible outcome of things, but you never think it’s going to happen here,” he said. “But we’re now one of those communities. We’ve lost an officer to a murder.”
Gov. Charlie Baker also attended the service and spoke to the strength of the Tarentino family during a difficult time.READ MORE: 32,345 Breakthrough COVID Cases Reported In Massachusetts, Just 0.71% Of Vaccinated People
“(They’re) just really special people and handling what has to be a catastrophe with just an incredible amount of grace,” he said.
Robert Shaw, whose Providence, Rhode Island officer son was shot and killed on the job in 1994, was among the people paying their respects to Tarentino.
“There is no such thing that you just get over it,” he told WBZ. “He’ll always be there no matter how long you live.”
In front of the department, a memorial to Tarantino continued to grow.
Tarentino’s funeral will be held in St. Joseph’s Church on Friday at 11 a.m. It will include a eulogy by his sister and remarks from his three children.
He will be laid to rest in a private burial at Greenville Baptist Church cemetery in the Rochdale section of Leicester.
Oxford Police and the Oxford Fire Department staged a welcome salute for law enforcement members arriving from around the country for the wake.
Tarentino was the second police officer to die in the line of duty in Massachusetts this year. State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy was killed March 16 when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle.
The Auburn Police Department set up a memorial fund for the wife and children of Officer Tarentino. Donations can be made to:
Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Memorial Fund
C/O Savers Bank
38 Auburn Street
Auburn, MA 01501
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reportsMORE NEWS: 'It Looked Like Niagara Falls,' Massive Water Main Break Floods Part Of Beacon Hill
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod and David Robichaud and WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones contributed to this report.