ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Funeral services are underway for two St. Petersburg police officers who were killed on Monday. Services will began at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church on Gandy Boulevard.
As he prepared to attend the service this morning, retired St. Petersburg Police Officer Mike Garfalo said, "It breaks your heart. It's just heartbreaking. They were colleagues, but they were also friends. "
Sgt. Patrice Hubbard knew both officers and has 6 kids of her own. Sgt Hubbard said she feels for the widows. "I can leave here and go home to my family. But they go home without a husband. Without a father. It's tough. "
Maj. Mike Kovacsev heads the St. Petersburg Police Department's homicide division. "I thought I was numb to death. I've worked 100s of murders. I'm not numb. I cried. "
One group of four officers, including former St. Petersburg Police Major Tom Carey, drove 22 hours from Rhone Island to be at today's service.
Governor Rick Scott and State attorney General Pam Bondi are also in attendance.
On Thursday evening, thousands from across Tampa Bay came together to remember Sergeant Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz. Mourners lined up outside of the church to pay their respects.
Traffic came to a halt, and blue lights were blinding as the procession made its way into First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg.
You could feel the heaviness in the air as two families struggled to get through the beginning of saying goodbye.
"I feel very deeply for these families," said Gail Schroeder, a resident of St. Pete, who never met Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz or Sergeant Thomas Baitinger.
Thousands stood in line as the temperatures dropped and the wind kicked up. But many, like Gail, refused to leave. They waited patiently for an opportunity to pay their respects.
"Growing up without a father, without a spouse, is gotta be devastating for these young ladies and the kids," said St. Petersburg City Councilman Wengay Newton.
Newton knew both men, and like those who came to say good bye, he knows what they have sacrificed for their community.
"Your loved one leaves, and youre hoping they come back, and they don't. They are gone forever. I can only imagine what they are going through," said Newton.
Inside the church, projectors flashed family photos of Baitinger and Yaslowitz as two wives wept, unable to envision a life without their husbands -- a life without a father to three small children.
And all anyone could do for these families on this day, was pray, which is exactly what Gail Schroeder did. "I just wish them peace in the coming days, which will be very, very hard on the kids and the wives, so i just hope they find peace."
Officers Baitinger and Yaslowitz were killed Monday when they were shot by fugitive Hydra Lacy, Jr., who died at the scene.
ABC Action News and abcactionnews.com will provide live coverage of today's funeral services.
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