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Slain Florida officers remembered at funeral; suspect denied bond

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Remembering Tampa officers killed on duty
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Thousands gather to pay tribute to slain officers
  • NEW: Judge denies bond to alleged killer
  • Dontae Morris was arrested Friday
  • Tampa's police community relieved by arrest

(CNN) -- Hours after the arrest of a suspect, thousands of friends, family and fellow officers gathered Saturday to pay tribute to two slain Florida policemen.

An emotional funeral unfolded inside a Tampa church as suspect Dontae Morris, arrested on Friday, appeared in court for the first time. He was denied bond, CNN affiliate Bay News 9 reported, and is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail.

Morris surrendered after a third party tipped off police, said Police Chief Jane Castor. Police also arrested 22-year-old Cortnee Brantly, the woman believed to have been driving the car at the time of the shooting, Castor said.

The arrests came after a massive manhunt and were a relief, Castor said. They meant the department would be able to provide officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis with the honorable tribute they deserve, Castor said.

"This has brought us a sense of closure, and I pray the arrest brings a level of peace to the families of the officers," she said.

At the funeral, Castor spoke of the "inherently dangerous" nature of law enforcement.

"There are some," she said, "who soar in their profession and Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab operated in this realm."

Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" as a procession of uniformed officers and family members filled Idlewild Baptist Church. A riderless horse stood as a powerful symbol of the fallen.

The slain officers' widows sat solemnly in the front row. Curtis left behind his wife, Kelley, and four sons, the youngest only 8 months. Kocab's wife, Sara, is due to give birth in the next few days.

Video: Suspect in police killing in court
Video: Slain police officers were 'family men'
RELATED TOPICS
  • Tampa
  • Shootings

Castor said the two women were supposed to have met for the first time at a party planned for Saturday night. Instead, she said, their lives became inextricably linked Tuesday by tragedy.

The Idlewild pastor told the women that what "we'd like to do for you, Sara, and you, Kelly, is to give you your men back."

"We wanted to have a place where we could come under one roof as a city and a family and as friends to mourn, to grieve, to cry," he said. "Maybe even to laugh, and to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us this day."

Morris is accused of shooting the two police officers during an early morning traffic stop near downtown Tampa on Tuesday. Both men died later at the hospital, according to police. Both were 31 years old.

Castor said Brantly was arrested by Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies in Brandon and is facing federal charges of witnessing a felony, and not reporting it.

Brantly was questioned by police for several hours immediately after the shooting Tuesday, but was not arrested at that time.

Curtis pulled the vehicle over about 2:15 a.m. Tuesday and Brantly gave him identification and vehicle registration that did not match the vehicle, according to police.

Running a criminal history check, Curtis found that Morris had an outstanding warrant for a worthless check out of Jacksonville. He called for backup, and Kocab responded. Police said as the two officers tried to arrest the suspect, he pulled out a gun and shot them.

After the shooting, Castor called Morris "a cold-blooded killer." She reiterated that Friday night.

"I stand by my definition of a cold-blooded killer. Thank God he is behind bars right now," she said.

Mayor Pamela Lorio said she was "thankful that we have been able to arrest him before the Saturday funeral. Tonight, everyone in Tampa can sleep easier because Dontae Morris is off the street."

The funeral lasted several hours. When it ended those in attendance stood in silence as the coffin-draped caskets were placed into awaiting hearses. And tears mixed with the rain that had fallen.

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