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October 20, 2014

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Community honors ‘courage and heroism’ of Wal-Mart shooting victim Joseph Wilcox

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David Becker / Pool

An urn containing the remains of Joseph Wilcox is displayed during a memorial service for him at Palm Downtown Mortuary and Cemetery on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Wilcox, 31, was killed trying to stop Jerad and Amanda Miller in the midst of their shooting spree at an east valley Walmart store on June 8.

Updated Sunday, June 22, 2014 | 6:08 p.m.

Joseph Wilcox Funeral

Las Vegas police and others look at a poster of photographs of Joseph Wilcox after a memorial service at Palm Downtown Mortuary and Cemetery on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Wilcox, 31, was killed trying to stop Jerad and Amanda Miller in the midst of their shooting spree at an east valley Walmart store on June 8. Launch slideshow »
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Shoppers are reflected in a window Thursday, June 12, 2014 near a memorial for Joseph Wilcox at the Wal-Mart where he was killed.

They made their way into the chapel for a hero’s funeral.

Metro Police officers, firefighters, family and friends — nearly 400 people in all — gathered Sunday to honor Joseph Wilcox for his sacrificial efforts to stop a gunslinging couple inside a Wal-Mart store.

Flowers, a hero plaque and a Civilian's Medal of Valor were on display in the chapel, and at the center of it all, an urn carrying his ashes rested in a bouquet of white flowers.

When the ceremony began at 2 p.m., police officers and firefighters framed the wall of the chapel, which was near capacity, solemn-faced in support of Wilcox.

"Joseph exemplifies what it means to fear no evil. ... His courage and heroism is what we honor the most today," Steve Withey, associate pastor at GV Christian Center and Henderson Police Department chaplain said.

Wilcox, a 31-year-old Las Vegas native, died attempting to stop two shooters in a Wal-Mart on June 8 after they shot and killed two Metro Police officers at a nearby pizza restaurant.

Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie described Wilcox's love for comic book heroes and spoke of his actions that Sunday after Jerad and Amanda Miller shot and killed Metro Police officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck at a CiCi’s Pizza.

"He made the decision to put his life in danger to help hundreds of others in the store," Gillespie said. "He is a man friends and family and the entire community should be proud of."

Las Vegas Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin was among many city and county officials at the ceremony to honor Wilcox and show support for his family. Coffin thanked Wilcox for standing up for the community, saying, "The actions of Joseph stopped a disaster from happening."

The family, too grief stricken to speak, allowed a video and Withey to speak for them.

Those in attendance laughed as Withey recalled Wilcox's mother, Debra Wilcox, describing him as "fun and a nut job,” how he often sneak-hugged family members and attacked them with giggle-inducing “Furby’s.”

They sobbed as a video, set to Pink's "Beam Me Up," showed photos and video clips of Wilcox throughout the years, including an image of Wilcox resting his head on two family members' shoulders.

Gillespie presented Wilcox's family with an American flag — a hero’s tribute for a man’s courageous actions. Then the honor guard performed. As the bagpipes wailed, people wiped tears away and let out sobs.

With a prayer and a message from the family thanking the community for their support, the short ceremony ended.

"On behalf of our entire family, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us during this extremely difficult time," the family said in a statement. "The day we lost Joseph, our lives changed forever. Each day is difficult, but the overwhelming love, words of encouragement and financial support you have graciously given us has made this life-changing moment a little less difficult. In this time of sadness, we have met so many great members of the community and emergency responders who have shown us compassion that is beyond words. Our hearts ache, but we are not alone — our thoughts are with the family and friends of Officer Beck and Officer Soldo as they, too, try to continue their lives without their loved ones."

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