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In their words | Community members describe Officer Dia, honor his life

When Dia died from a gunshot wound to his chest at a Home Depot parking lot on the Fourth of July weekend, people from all over prayed and wept together.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A father, a husband, a friend and an officer. 

Those were some of the many roles 26-year-old Officer Anthony Dia had in the Toledo community. 

When Dia died from a gunshot wound to his chest at a Home Depot parking lot on the Fourth of July weekend, police officers and their families, along with community members from all walks of life prayed and wept together.

Tragedy touched many hearts and scores of people showed union, support, and gratitude for Dia's ultimate sacrifice; together, Toledoans left flowers and flags at two makeshift memorials.

More impressive was the outpouring of condolences and kind messages WTOL 11 viewers directed to the Dia family and how quickly the sting of his death spread. People from Indiana, Minnesota and across the country shared their emotions with us.

Credit: WTOL

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When word got out that Dia's last words were, "Tell my family I love them," his sentiment resonated with many.

Stories followed about the family man he was. 

Dia is survived by his father, Tony Dia, his mother, Gina Long, his wife Jayme and his two small children. 

“He’s just a great kid, a great young man. A great father, a great son, a great brother. Everyone who knew Anthony knew he was just smiles, he’s a great kid," said Oscar Rammuny, a long-time friend of Dia's family.

"It was pretty heartbreaking knowing he has two little ones at home and a wife. He seemed like a really good family guy," said Matthew Kleinert, who crossed paths with Dia in June when the officer was helping a senior citizen. 

Credit: WTOL 11

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The mayor of Toledo recognized the loss of a family member not just of the Dias, but of our community. He was family not just for his brothers in uniform, but to everyone he worked to keep safe, the mayor said.

"I would hope that they also pause to reflect on the sacrifices that safety forces, and especially police forces, throughout our country also make every day, every night, with very little fanfare, often vilified, always underappreciated," Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said.

And indeed Toledoans reflected. But unlike these times of divide suggest, they showed heartfelt gratitude for Dia's service and ultimate sacrifice.