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Wake held for slain New Jersey police officer

Thursday - 7/17/2014, 7:55pm  ET

Police cadets march in a line as they arrive at McLaughlin Funeral Home during visitation hours for Jersey City Police Department officer Melvin Santiago, who was killed Sunday, July 13 while on duty, Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. The officer was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at a pharmacy. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Mourners paid their respects Thursday to a rookie police officer who had requested an assignment in one of the toughest districts in New Jersey's second largest city and was killed in an ambush over the weekend.

Several hundred Jersey City police officers, officers from surrounding towns, and friends and family of Officer Melvin Santiago filed in and out of a Jersey City funeral home to honor him. He was remembered as a dedicated, diligent member of the force.

The 23-year-old Santiago was killed while responding to reports of an armed robbery early Sunday at a 24-hour drugstore in Jersey City. He had been on the force for less than a year, fulfilling what family members had said was his lifelong dream to be a police officer.

Authorities say the man who shot Santiago had grabbed a security guard's gun and waited for police to arrive before opening fire. The man was killed by other officers.

Among those paying their respects at the wake were former Gov. Jim McGreevey, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, former Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Santiago's funeral is scheduled for Friday.

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