By Brad Segall

PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — The law enforcement community in Montgomery County, Pa. was devastated this year when Plymouth Township police officer Bradley Fox was gunned down while chasing a suspect.

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Officer Fox was one day shy of his 35th birthday when he was shot and killed.  He was chasing a suspect who allegedly had been involved in a hit-and-run crash (see news story).

Prosecutors say that man, identified as Andrew Thomas of Lower Merion, executed Fox and injured his canine partner.  Police say Thomas then killed himself.

The officer’s death hit the community hard.

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“We all have to deal with these guys who put their lives on the line every day, and it’s a sad, sad thing,” said Lou Alba, who owns Lou’s Steaks, “but our hearts go out to them again.”

Several thousand police officers from around the country turned out for the funeral (see news story), where a love letter that his wife had written to him posthumously was read to the mourners by her sister.

” ‘You’re a true hero, and I stand here today honored to have had the past eight years with you, and we all know that your legacy will carry on through your children,’ ” the letter said in part.

Fox had served two tours of duty in Iraq and was a seven-year police veteran.  He left behind his wife, a young daughter, and an unborn child.  His K-9 partner has since been given to the family (see news story).

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