HANOVER (AP/CBS) — A police officer killed while investigating a car crash was remembered by his brother-in-law as a family man, a fervent New England Patriots fan and a hero.

Weymouth police Sgt. Michael Chesna was laid to rest during a funeral Mass at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart in Hanover, where he lived with his wife and two children. A private burial service followed.

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Chesna family photo from the front of Sgt. Michael Chesna’s funeral program.

“Mike, you’re my hero, and I’m truly honored to have known you personally and professionally,” said Joseph Comperchio, Chesna’s brother-in-law and a captain with the Weymouth police. “We love you, and we will miss you.”

While friends, relatives, fellow Weymouth officers and political dignitaries packed the church, thousands of officers from departments across the country stood at attention outside.

funeral Large Police Turnout At Slain Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesnas Funeral

Police march outside a Hanover church before the funeral for Sgt. Michael Chesna. (WBZ-TV)

Comperchio also read a letter from Chesna’s wife, Cynthia Chesna.

“I would like to tell you that I love you more than anything in this world and that you are my best friend and best dad the kids could ever have,” her letter said. “I will make sure the kids know how great you are and how fortunate I was to have you in my life.”

Comperchio offered words of comfort to Chesna’s wife and children, Olivia, 9, and Jack, 4.

“The members of the Weymouth Police Department are your family, and you will never be alone,” he said.

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The procession following Sgt. Michael Chesna’s funeral. (WBZ-TV)

Chesna, 42, was a native of Weymouth, a city of about 55,000 residents south of Boston. He was a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient who had served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and knew it would help him fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a policeman.

“Great guy. Just a great man. A great American,” said Paul Pattat, one of several veterans who served with Chesna and traveled across the country to say goodbye. “We never stop talking to each other. It’s just that bond we have from the days and weeks we spent overseas and all the stuff we went through together.”

Chesna played in a weekly men’s basketball league and loved all Boston area sports teams, particularly the Patriots.

Christopher Cornejo was also in Iraq when Chesna earned his Purple Heart and he can’t help but smile, sharing what he’ll miss most about his buddy.

“The rivalry on sports teams,” Cornejo said. “He was all about his Boston teams. I’m from Texas. I’m all about my Texas teams. Whenever we got back from patrol, he was just there to make us laugh. He’s going to be missed.”

Chesna was killed last Sunday morning near the end of his overnight shift while investigating reports of an erratic driver and a car crash.

The man suspected of killing him, Emanuel Lopes, threw a large rock at the officer, grabbed his gun and repeatedly shot him with it, police said. Lopes also is charged with killing a 77-year-old bystander, Vera Adams.

Lopes, 20, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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