A memorial service was held Friday morning for a Richmond police officer killed, allegedly by his daughter's ex-boyfriend, and the most poignant part of the ceremony came was when the young woman at the heart of the fatal dispute spoke for the first time.
"My dad completed what he set out to do," Angel Vegas said of her father, Gus Vegas. "He protected me and protected my baby. He's my hero. I thank you dad. I love you so much."
All nine of her siblings surrouded her as she spoke through tears, and the people in the audience sobbed as well.
The public service for the 58-year-old Vegas was held at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, and a private funeral was held just for the family.
Family was the central theme of the somber service.
Joe Vegas, one of Vegas' sons, said his father always made each of the ten children feel like the center of his world. Another son, Enrico Maldonado, said Vegas was the ultimate protector: "He always made sure we were safe. When dad's final breath came he was protecing his family at all costs."
Vegas was protecting his family on Feb. 11 about 4:30 a.m. when he heard some type of commotion in his daughter's bedroom. When he went inside to check, he was shot to death.
Robert Vega, 30, a former Army veteran, was officially charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, with enhancements including personal and intentional use of a firearm resulting in death. Vega did not enter a plea and was ordered to returned to court on March 2.
Vega, who has a similar last name to Vegas, had dated Vegas' daughter, and the two had a 6-year-old son together, whom Vega fled with until he was arrested a short time later. Attempts to speak to Vega in jail have been unsuccessful.
According to Army records, Vega was deployed to Kuwait in 2005 and 2006, and Iraq in 2006, and had won several awards.
Memorial Service for Slain Richmond Police Officer Gus Vegas
The exact nature of the fatal dispute has not been disclosed.
But the day after her husband was shot multiple times, Vegas' wife, Sandra, said her daughter's ex-boyfriend was very close to the family, and even called Vegas "dad."
"We don't know what happened," she said at the time. "But we have complete love and forgiveness for him."
The communities of both Richmond, where Vegas worked, and Vallejo, where he lived, came out to remember a great family man and a dedicated cop.
Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown called Vegas "a light, an absolute pleasure to work with."
Brown said Vegas had a peacemaking approach to his job, and his true talent was his ability to understand and share the feelings of families who lost a loved one.
Raw Video: Police Press Conference on Death of Off-Duty Richmond Officer
Vallejo Mayor Osby , who was personally friends with Vegas, called him a "a man's man...a man who believes his role in life is to protect and provide for his family. Nothing was too big, nothing was too much."
A memorial fund has been established for Officer Gus Vegas’s family through the Richmond Police Officers Association: Mechanics Bank, Account #041305213, Routing #121102036.