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Slain Mass. cop laid to rest in emotional ceremony

Thousands of police officers from across New England helped honor 42-year-old Auburn cop Ronald Tarentino Jr.


Mourners pause before a memorial set up for slain police Officer Ronald Tarentino outside the police station, Monday, May 23, 2016, in Auburn, Mass.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

By Erica Moura
Boston Herald

CHARLTON, Mass. - Thousands of police officers from across New England joined grief-stricken friends and family members of 42-year-old Auburn cop Ronald Tarentino Jr. as they paid their last respects to the beloved father of three, who was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday.

“He was just a wonderful, wonderful guy. Just goofy and funny and just super sweet,” said Rebecca Hubbard, who graduated from Tewksbury High School alongside Tarentino. “Everybody liked him. There isn’t anything bad that you could possible say about him.”

As she wiped a tear from behind her sunglasses, Hubbard said his wake, which drew an army of police officers to the front door of St. Joseph Catholic Church in nearby Charlton yesterday, was a fitting salute to such a wonderful man and community member.

“This is such a tribute to him and the man that he was,” she said.

The seemingly never-ending line of mourners -- many of whom were uniformed police officers -- stretched into the church’s parking lot, which was lined with miniature American flags.

As the throng of cops marched toward the church in tight formation, the officer in front carried a black flag with a fitting emblem reading: “All gave some, some gave all.” Above the somber procession flew a giant American flag suspended by a Charlton Fire Department ladder truck.

“He was the nicest, kindest person you would ever know. ... Not a mean bone in his body,” said Kerry Croce, who also graduated with Tarentino and said she was “heartbroken” to learn her classmate had been killed.

“He didn’t deserve to have this happen to him whatsoever,” she said. Elaine Costello, who patiently stood in line with Croce and Hubbard, sharing stories of their school days as they waited for their chance to enter the packed church, said she was still in disbelief that Tarentino won’t be attending their 25th class reunion in November.

“You just always think that they are going to be around,” Costello said. “It’s just shocking really.”

Tim Haywood, who wore a gray “Tarentino Strong” T-shirt as he waited to give his condolences to the officer’s family, said Tarentino was a regular customer at his restaurant, Tiny Tim’s Cafe in Rochdale.

Tarentino, he said, would often order a pulled-pork omelet and talk about his family and his Mustang, which Haywood recognized immediately when he saw it parked on the lawn outside the church.

“Ron was a great guy,” Haywood said. “Always had a smile.”

Tarentino, the son of a longtime Medford police officer, is survived by his wife and three sons, Ron III, Spenser and Kyle.

Leicester High School football coach Tim Griffiths brought his players -- both past and present -- to support the Tarentino family. Ron Tarentino played on the team while he was a student at Leicester High School.

“This is like the worst tragedy we’ve ever had,” Griffiths said. “I know it’s part of life -- but it just isn’t right.” A funeral Mass will be held at the same church today, followed by burial at Greenville Baptist Church Cemetery in Tarentino’s hometown of Leicester.

(c)2016 the Boston Herald