Family, friends and political colleagues remembered Fairfield Councilman Matt Garcia Tuesday afternoon as "the real deal" during his brief 22 years of life and 10 months of public service on the City Council.
An estimated 3,000 people attended the Keep the Dream Alive memorial service at the windy football field of Armijo High School, where Garcia graduated in 2004.
"Welcome to this celebration of an absolutely remarkable life," Mayor Harry Price said. "Only he could bring us together on a day that's not hot. This is his west wind," Price said.
"This is exactly what he wants, old and young, Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor, coming together," family spokesman Ron Marlette said as he surveyed the huge crowd.
"He was a small man but his presence was larger than life. As soon as he spoke, I was inspired," said Nicole Terrell, executive board chairwoman of the Fairfield Youth Commission.
"He is the true definition of a hero," she said.
Garcia was fatally shot in the head outside a residence in the 5000 block of Silverado Drive eight days ago. His killer is still at large.
"This is the eighth day of this tragedy," Garcia's stepfather Raymond Courtemanche said.
He said the number eight signifies a new beginning.
"This is a new beginning for the county of Solano," he said.
Courtemanche, who married Garcia's mother when Garcia was 4 years old, said his stepson had eternity as a perspective and was purposeful in his actions. He called upon everyone to be equally purposeful and to keep the dream alive.
Garcia's sister Brianna remembered him as a hero, a big brother, a friend and a defender.
"I love you, brother. You will never be forgotten," she said.
Garcia's cousin Michael remembered him as "the little boy with a dream."
Chris Garcia remembered her grandson as her hero.
"He was the love of my life," she said.
She then pleaded for someone with information about the shooting to come forward.
"Is there somebody here who knows who killed my grandson? I don't have hate in my heart. I just want closure in my life. I want to ask him face to face, why did you kill my grandson? What were you thinking? Do you know what he meant to us?" she asked.
In a letter to Garcia's family, Matthew Garcia, the natural father said, "I was blessed to have a son like you " and he said he was proud to name him Matthew.
"You never gave up and you achieved many of your goals," he said.
Garcia's family released 36 doves at the end of the nearly two-hour service and they followed behind as Garcia's black casket with silver handles was carried back to a fire truck and taken to a private burial service at Fairmont Memorial Park.
The fire truck had two very special license plates: one belonging to Garcia and one reading "FFINEST" in honor of the Fairfield resident.