Deputy killed: Church family clings together

Reporter: Al Pefley

It's a day of mourning for those who knew Sergeant Chris Reyka and his family. The 18-year veteran of the Broward County Sheriff's Department was killed on Friday while he was running tags on a suspicious vehicle.

Over the weekend, members of his church in Wellington gathered as they usually do to worship, but Sunday took on a special meaning.

Parishioners at St. Therese De Lisieux Catholic Church joined hands and broke into song. But as they sang, they could not help but feel sorrow as they remembered Sgt. Chris Reyka.

Reyka was a Broward Deputy who was gunned down and killed in the line of duty who attended this Catholic Church.

The priest told the congregation that Reyka not only had a strong faith himself, but he led his own family to have a deeper faith.

Father Brian Lehnert states, "Thank God this father and husband was a man of faith. Because they are relying on it right now... "If we build our faith, we will be able to endure through anything."

The priest told worshippers even if they didn't know Reyka personally, their prayers are the key to helping the family get through this tragedy. "Right now, the Reyka family needs our prayers."

Reyka's widow and children did not attend. After the service, church members spilled out into the sweltering August heat, wondering why such a good cop had to die.

Dick Hogan, a church member, describes, "It's a big loss because he was one of us... You know, it's a shame. In my day, when I was a kid, we respected the police. Today, nobody has respect for 'em, and it's a shame."

Church member Vivian Lovcik was choking back tears. "It's very, very upsetting, and I pray for the family."

Martine Trajan, church member, says, "It's hard; I'm sure he was here last Sunday at mass, and, now, he's not here. So, it's hard when we lose someone."

One church member, who wished to remain anonymous, took a hard stand on the people who did this to Reyka. "Don't waste the money on a trial. They used a gun. Use a gun on them."

While church members keep the Reyka family in their prayers, so do others who've been bringing things to this makeshift memorial outside the family's development.

The funeral plans are now set for Sergeant Reyka. There will be a viewing Tuesday at the Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Pompano Beach. It's from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m.

A memorial service will take place Wednesday; it's at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise and starts at noon.

Immediately following the memorial service, Sergeant Reyka will be laid to rest. The funeral service will be at the South Florida VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth.