NEW ORLEANS - Funeral services for Officer Rodney Thomas, who was killed in a hit and run, were held Friday morning.
The church was jammed with family, friends, first responders (from recruits to the superintendent) and members of agencies across the metro area and as far away as Pascagoula, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama.
The NOPD veteran left behind a wife and two children.
The funeral took place at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, the same church at which Thomas was baptized. Visitation began at 8:30 a.m. He will be honored with a 21 gun salute and then be buried at Lake Lawn Cemetery.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Mayor Mitch Landrieu knew Thomas personally and spoke at the service.
"Incredibly sad day for the city of New Orleans and for Rodney Thomas' family. We all know and recognize the great contributions that Rodney made. He had a reputation of having a smile every day, saying a prayer before every meal, helping every officer no matter what the need was," Serpas said.
"Today is a tragic day for the city New Orleans. We're going to have three funerals today. One for a police officer and two others for two firefighters who were all taken too early from us. We're here this morning at the funeral of Officer Thomas, who was a great police officer. He was a veteran of the force. He was on for eight years. He came on right before Katrina. I knew him. We crossed paths many, many times. He was a wonderful officer. He was exactly the kind of officer that we wanted. He was always there," Landrieu said.
As family and friends laid him to rest, the NOPD worked to piece together the case surrounding his murder.
Early Sunday morning, Thomas was in his uniform and wearing a reflective vest directing traffic after being involved in a minor accident on the highrise, according to the NOPD. As he was standing on the bridge, a Porsche hit the officer and kept going.
Three people were arrested in relation to the crime.
The alleged owner of the car, Kenneth Halley, 28, remained behind bars on a $100,000 bond.
Police are still looking for two people that they want to question about the accident.
One of the men was captured on surveillance video at Cager's shop, the Best of the Best Automotive and Collision Center on Gravier street.
A picture of the other person of interest was released by police on Thursday night. He has an especially small build, police said.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these two men should call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.
On Thursday night, there was a vigil in honor of Thomas.