Lines of mourners attend visitation for Officer Tom Decker - FOX 35 News Orlando

Lines of mourners pay tribute to Officer Tom Decker at visitation

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COLD SPRING, Minn. (KMSP) -

Hundreds gathered at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring on Tuesday to pay their respects to Officer Tom Decker, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in what authorities describe as an ambush.

The somber mood was intensified by shock after officials released the suspect arrested in the killing shortly before noon, citing a lack of evidence.

"I don't think it's cliche to say worst nightmare -- don't know what could be worse," said Avon Police Chief. "This is the most tragic thing that can happen to a small community, or really any community, for that matter."

Yet, the law enforcement officials who organized the visitation and funeral say the investigation is secondary to supporting Decker's family.

"It's terrible shock, terrible thoughts -- to think their whole lives changed in an instant," said Kevin Torgerson, of the Law Enforcement Memorial Association. "It's hard to describe more than that."

Lines of mourners were already waiting to enter the sanctuary when Decker's flag-draped casket arrived. Officers stood at attention as grieving loved ones looked on through tears and embraces.

"I can't believe how many people are here," said Ed Kunz, an extended family member. "Just unbelievable."

Kunz told FOX 9 News his heart broke as he watched Decker's four young children -- all of whom are under the age of 10 -- go up to their father's casket.

Decker, 31, was one of eight children raised on a farm just south of town and was working what he described as his "dream job" when he was killed. Upwards of 3,000 people are expected to attend his funeral in Collegeville at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. A funeral procession will transport Decker's body through the towns where he worked and past his boyhood home before he is laid to rest.

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