COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Dozens of church members gathered Sunday in worship and remembrance of their co-pastor.
Officer Garrett Swasey was one of three people killed on Friday in the armed attack at a local Planned Parenthood clinic. Swasey was a six-year veteran officer with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Police. He was shot, and died after responding to the active shooter scene.
“It’s surreal,” said Kurt Aichele, a longtime friend of Swasey. “It’s hard to imagine that he’s no longer with us.”
Aichele referred to Swasey as a devoted husband and father to his two children.
“An absolutely incredible man of God, who placed the concern and welfare of others before himself,” said Aichele.
Swasey was a church elder, a guitar teacher, and a skating champion. Friends said he was a selfless man whose bravery will not be forgotten.
“Garrett died trying to save others,” said Jason Churchill.
Churchill described his reaction to the devastating news of his friend’s sudden death.
“It was very difficult,” said Churchill. “We cried a lot. And then I had to call all of the people of our care group and let them know.”
In a written statement, Swasey’s wife said, “Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him. In the end his last act was for the safety and well-being of others and was a tribute to his life.”
Despite the overwhelming pain, Churchill said he holds no anger towards the suspect who opened fire.
“I know that if (the suspect) were to repent and believe, that Garrett would be the first one to greet him, as he came into Heaven. Garrett believed in forgiveness,” said Churchill.
“He was also my hero,” Churchill went on, holding back tears. “Because I could look to him and say, ‘This is the kind of person I want to be.'”
A memorial fund has been set up to help Swasey’s family.