The father of slain Prince George’s County Police Officer Jacai Colson gave thanks Thursday during a public viewing for his son, expressing his gratitude for the support his family has received throughout not only the region, but nationwide.

James Colson III, briefly addressing reporters while standing with family members outside Borgwardts Funeral Home in Beltsville, said he prefers to remember his son’s final heroics while doing the job he loved.

“The support we have been given, we just can’t say enough about it since this incident has occurred,” Colson said. “We are holding on and we have the strength to know that Jacai is a hero. He died a hero. He was very proud working for the Prince George’s County Police Department.”

Officer Colson, 28, a four-year veteran who worked as a narcotics detective, was killed during a March 13 shootout in front of the District 3 Landover station.

Colson’s father, alongside his wife, Sheila, and their youngest son, Jurea, said his oldest son would often share stories about his time with the department.

“We were very proud of the fact he was doing a job that he loved,” he said. ”He was never any trouble to us. He was the kind of young man any parent would be proud of, any brother would be proud of.

“We aren’t out here talking about somebody who had a bad reputation,” Colson said of his son. ”He was an outstanding young man and an excellent role model for youth coming up.”

Thursday’s viewing began at 2 p.m. with hundreds of law enforcement officials and residents coming to pay their respects to the Colson family.

Pam Haggins of northeast D.C., who graduated from H.D. Woodson High School in the District in 1976 with Sheila Colson, consoled her old friend.

“I haven’t hugged someone like that in a long, long time,” Haggins said. “I met [Jacai] one time with his brother at Sheila’s father’s house. They were so mannerable and handsome. I was very impressed when I did meet them. So this hurt deeply to know he is no longer with us, especially the circumstances of how he was taken away.”

Police determined Colson, who was in plainclothes during the gunbattle, was fatally shot by a fellow officer after being mistaken as a threat.

Michael DeAndre Ford, 22, who authorities said began the confrontation by firing shots at the station, has been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. Ford’s two brothers, who filmed the gunbattle and failed to stop him, are also in jail.

Colson said what transpired with his son could have happened to the other officer.

“Jacai as a police officer, as well as this other individual as a police officer, could be switching roles,” said Colson, who added his family offered its support to the other officer’s family. “We are talking about two officers and it’s certainly a tragedy all the way around.”

The viewing continues until 9 p.m. Thursday. A second viewing will be held Friday from 9 a.m.-11 a.m., followed by the funeral service at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro.

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