GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye talked Tuesday about his preparations to say a final goodbye to fallen officer A.J. Castaneda at his funeral on Thursday.
Chief Dye said there are so many good things to say about the officer who was struck and killed while running radar on the President George Bush Turnpike last weekend, it will be difficult to keep his remarks brief.
He said he’s appreciative of all the support by the community.
“You know you can’t even tell it’s a Tahoe anymore. It’s just covered with flowers, notes and candles,” said Chief Dye about what has become a memorial to Officer Castaneda outside police headquarters.
“I could literally talk all day about this guy. He was the salt of the earth. He was a good, good man. And he was a really good police officer.”
And next to the fallen officer’s SUV, two teenage art students from Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy spent the day painting a portrait for Castaneda’s family that will be on display at the funeral.
Sisters 17-year-old Heavenly Najar and 14-year-old Faith Najar say they didn’t know the officer.
“I’ve always really appreciated everything the officers for us, everything they sacrifice for us, so I really wanted to be able to give something back to them,” said Heavenly.
“To the officers, I hope that it shows them how our community still cares about our police department,” said Faith.
Heavenly’s boyfriend Jarod Lee also helped with the project.
Chief Dye met the young ladies and their teacher Tuesday morning.
For those young ladies to use their time and talent to honor A.J. and our department, it really is a maturity beyond years,” said Chief Dye.
It’s a reminder he says that so many in the community were touched in some way by Castaneda, who may not have served a long time in the department, but left a lasting legacy.
“In his short five years, he gave me 50 years of service. He was tremendous,” said Chief Dye.