SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The community gathered to say a final farewell to a South Florida police officer, as they filled a church to honor a fallen hero.

A funeral mass took place at St. Kevin Catholic Church for Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Jose Perez at 10:30 a.m., Monday.

“We are gathered here today to pay tribute to a great husband, father, brother and son, and indeed a true public servant hero, special agent Jose Perez,” said Rabbi Mark Rosenberg.

He died on Aug. 20 after fighting for his life for two weeks in the hospital.

Many in the community remembered the 55-year-old retired assistant chief of the City of Miami Police Department as a respected public servant; he was a decorated law enforcement veteran, serving in the armed forces for more than 20 years.

“He did not live life in fear. He lived his life fearless,” said an officer. “As a valiant soldier, he understood that freedom was not free, without sacrifice.”

Perez also spent 26 years with the MPD where he rose in the ranks and retired as assistant chief of police. He retired in 2018 as a major in the City of Miami Police Department, and in 2021, he joined the FDLE.

To many, he was known as a hero, but to his three daughters, he was simply known as Dad.

“Growing up, you were my best friend,” said his daughter. “Dad, you are the bravest, most hard headed, strongest and most dedicated person I will ever meet in my life, but I am going to do what you taught me to do, stay strong and get through it. We love you, and we miss you, daddy’s little girl.”

He was involved in a crash on Aug. 2 while he responded to an incident in West Miami-Dade. The other driver involved in the crash was charged with driving under the influence.

Police said that driver failed to yield the right-of-way.

“Service was a noble call that Jose courageously answered on that fateful evening where we lost a brother,” said an officer.

A procession was held the day after Perez passed away where his body was escorted by multiple agencies of South Florida from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office.

Another procession took place around 8:30 a.m. that closed down streets between 8:45 a.m. to about 9:00 a.m. when they transported his body to the church.

Perez’s death was the second line-of-duty death in FDLE history,

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Lt. Governor and the Florida Attorney General were spotted inside of the church to pay their respects, as well.

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