LONGWOOD, Fla. - Central Florida said goodbye to a fallen hero during a memorial services to honor Windermere Police Officer Robert German on Thursday.
Family, friends and even strangers paid their respects to German at Northland Church in Longwood.
German was gunned down Saturday morning while questioning Brandon Goode and his girlfriend, Alexandria Hollinghurst, who were walking down a darkened street in Windermere.
The two teens ran away from home in Polk County and were apparently suicidal.
Moments after German approached them, he called for backup. But soon afterward he was shot and killed.
Most of the people who spoke remembered German as a light-hearted joker who loved his job, family and friends.
German was only 31 years old. His photo sat alongside his flag-draped coffin Thursday.
German's roommate and fellow officer fondly and jokingly told the loved ones and hundreds of officers who paid their last respects that German was very eager to find the perfect wife and start a family.
One longtime friend was overcome by emotion as she shared her stories of their friendship, his sensitivity and his sense of humor, which she said knew few boundaries.
She said she begged him to take care of himself on the street.
"You better be careful out there. If anything happens to you I don't know what I'd do with myself," said Andrea Patrick.
German's father talked about how much he admired his only son, his first born child, for achieving his career goal to serve the community, at such a young age.
"I'm not sure I can believe this. But it's true. Our son has been taken from us, from all of us, in an instant of tragic desperation, at a time in his life when he was so very happy," Tim German said. "Son, we love you so much and we'll miss you dearly."
Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden said German was so happy to be a Windermere police officer.
"Robbie was a good cop. He was dedicated, committed. He was detail-oriented and his mom said sometimes to a fault. He was always able to improve, he was humble and he also liked to kid around," Ogden said.
Ogden said German would say it was "cool" that so many people came to honor him.
"You now have a guardian angel on your shoulder. He will forever be by our sides," said Ogden.
On Wednesday, strangers left flowers on a cruiser parked in the center of Windermere that is now on display outside Northland Church.
German worked in Windermere for five years.
"Everybody is sad and everybody knows he was a great officer who loved his job," said Windermere resident Tony Merhi.
The small town is grieving with the German family.
"Everybody is taking it in stride. I just think back, you know, on the good times," said German’s cousin, Ty Robare. "He was selfless through and through and he cared about the community. He cared about was spreading love and compassion. I hope people remember him for all the things he did."
His parents and sisters greeted hundreds of people who stopped by the viewing to pay their respects.
"We thank you for your son’s commitment to law enforcement and protecting this wonderful town," resident Denise Myton told the German family.
"It’s still surreal to me tonight, and it will be for years to come," said German’s high school friend Maximo Zorrilla. "It’s just a senseless atrocity."
Residents embraced the department of only 10 officers and showed support by tying blue ribbons on mailboxes and light poles.
Friends and family said German was a college soccer standout, a Lake Mary High School graduate and a Canadian-born brother and son.
He joined the Windermere Police Department as a first-time officer in 2008.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office patrolled the town while Windermere officers attended the viewing.
Officials said deputies will continue to patrol the town until Saturday morning.
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