By Sam Frizell
Updated: December 27, 2014 11:01 AM ET | Originally published: December 26, 2014

New York City police officers, along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and Vice President Joe Biden, paid tribute to one of their two colleagues killed by a gunman last week in a funeral Saturday morning that was expected to draw thousands.

Rafael Ramos was hours away from becoming a lay chaplain and graduating from a community-crisis chaplaincy program before he was gunned down in Brooklyn in the patrol car he shared with Wenjian Liu. The New York Police Department expects some 25,000 police officers from around the country to attend the funeral Saturday, CNN reports. Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to attend.

Ramos, 40, was a father of two sons and an active member of the Christ Tabernacle church in Queens, where he served as an usher.

Ramos “had an infectious and disarming smile,” the church said in a statement. “He was a humble man and was willing to help at any capacity; helping people to their seats, moms with their baby carriages or the elderly in and out of our elevator.”

He leaves behind a wife of over 20 years, Maritza, and sons Justin and Jaden.

Police have identified Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, as the lone gunman who shot Ramos and Liu execution style as they sat in their patrol car. Brinsley posted messages on his Instagram account about killing police officers in revenge for the police killings of unarmed black men in Staten Island and Ferguson, Mo. Protests over those killings and police outrage over the murders of Ramos and Liu have put Mayor Bill de Blasio in the most delicate political position of his tenure so far.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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