Huge crowd pays tribute to Ray Giacomelli
Charlie Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle
An overflow crowd of police officers, friends and family gave their
farewells Monday to veteran Pittsburg homicide inspector Ray
Giacomelli, who was gunned down last week while investigating a
Enduring stiff winds and cold rain, hundreds of officers from around
California stood stoically outside the Good Shepherd Church in
Pittsburg while hundreds of mourners paid respect to the veteran
"Ray paid the ultimate price by giving his life to the city of
Pittsburg," said Pittsburg Police Chief Aaron Baker, calling
Giacomelli "a true hero."
Giacomelli, 46, was found shot to death on April 15 at a home on
Abbott Avenue. He was investigating the fatal shooting of 21-year-old
Eric Huffman there a week before.
Authorities believe parolee and suspected drug dealer Earl Foster Jr.
was responsible for both killings. Foster was dating Huffman's
sister, but authorities have not given a motive for Huffman's death.
After an intense manhunt, Foster was found in Modesto last week.
Authorities say he was killed after shooting at police who returned
Giacomelli's funeral was attended by numerous city, county and state
dignitaries, including Gov. Gray Davis, who told mourners that
Giacomelli had served the people of Pittsburg with great honor and
embodied "the best our society had to offer."
Giacomelli was an officer for 23 years and one of the first at the
Pittsburg Police Department to be named to the rank of inspector.
Aside from his love for his job, Giacomelli was a dedicated husband
and father who enjoyed hunting and fishing and displayed a talent for
cooking. On Monday, one of his two daughters, Jessica Giacomelli,
remembered her father as "my best friend, my hero, my dad and much
"I do not know why God took you from us," she said. "He probably has
a better job for you in heaven."
Four Pittsburg police motorcycles led the hearse bearing Giacomelli's
body to the front of the church. Officers stood at attention as pall
bearers brought Giacomelli's coffin, draped with the American flag,
into the church. Giacomelli's wife and two daughters, all dressed in
black, looked on, wiping away their tears as a bagpiper played.
The Rev. Helmut Richter, chaplain for the Pittsburg Police
Department, noted that Giacomelli's death had come just a few days
before Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
"The tragedy is real, but no tragedy is final," Richter said. "Not
even the cross, not even the death of Ray."
Giacomelli's older brother, Leo Giacomelli, recalled for mourners
how, as a child, his younger brother "was always on the run." As a
teenager growing up in Richmond, Giacomelli occasionally "started
fights that his big brother had to finish."
But as he developed into adulthood and a career in law enforcement,
Giacomelli also displayed a strong sense of morality. "He wanted to
make wrong things right," his older brother said, choking back sobs.
Leo Giacomelli told Pittsburg police officers attending the funeral
that there was "no guilt to feel, no blame to seek" for his brother's
The Giacomelli family also issued a statement expressing sympathy for
"There is no anger," said Giacomelli's cousin, Ralph Hernandez, an
inspector with the Contra Costa district attorney's office. "We have
extended our condolences to the Earl Foster family."
The department has set up a trust fund for Giacomelli's family.
Donations can be made to Merrill Lynch, 1111 Broadway, 22 Floor,
Oakland, CA 94607.
Giacomelli is the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in
Pittsburg since 1935. He was buried Monday at Holy Cross Cemetery in