OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The City of Oakland said goodbye to one of its firefighters today, who was the victim of a homicide while off-duty.
Four months ago, some Oakland firefighters gathered in celebration of a dream achieved. But today, there is a long procession using a specially outfitted fire engine to a ceremony mourning a life cut shot.
Oakland's Scottish Rite Temple was full of people from all across the Bay Area, many dressed in black, and burdened with the heavy emotion of loss.
"It was an unimaginable darkness that drew us here today. A darkness that can not be escaped," said Kate Walter, as she stood on a stage just feet from an urn containing her son's ashes.
The heartbreak is hardest for her, but she's not alone in grief.
Several thousand people were at the temple Saturday morning to pay their final respects to Jake Walter.
"Jake Walter was a titan," said Mayor Libby Schaaf, "He was a titan in his strength. His strength of character and family bond".
Born 30 years ago with a big smile that beamed brighter with age, Walter lived a life full of service to others. His character livened any situations. Friends called him "Jack Nicholson" and one drank a toast in his honor before telling stories of times gone by.
"He always carried himself in such a way that gave hope to me and other people that yeah, it might be kind of tough right now, but things are gonna get better today or the next day," said childhood friend Jackson Sterns as his voice cracked with emotion.
The days and years passed with Walter captaining the Skyline High baseball team, then coming back years later to volunteer as a coach. But there was always his life-long burning desire to make a difference on a different team- the Oakland Fire Department.
With every fabric of his being, Jake Walter embodied what an Oakland firefighter is and what we stand for. He loved this city and his team so much that he would give every ounce of himself to show you he wanted to be here," said Ray Ford, a fellow Oakland Fire academy classmate who graduated with Walter.
In April, Walter graduated with fire academy class 2-16, realizing his dream. But on August 17th while out with fellow former cadets in San Jose, Walter was shot and killed.
Police detectives say the unprovoked attack also wounded his 26-year-old friend.
27-year-old Oliver Juinio is being held in the killing, as detective search for a motive.
Walter's family, friends, and fellow firefighters tried to shake the shock of his death late Saturday by holding a post-service block party outside the firefighter's union hall. There was plenty of barbecue, brisket, and beer-- his favorites, in his honor.
"Let's not raise voice in anger, wales of sorry. Let's raise our voice to cheer on our fellow teammates and the members around us and the people we love," said family friend Jonathan Blundall.
Kate Walter says her son Jake was a light, a light she hopes pierces the vale of darkness on this late Summer day.
"We honor him by sharing the light he brought to us all. The light that we share today, the light we celebrate," she said.
Jake Walter is survived by his parents, Jerry and Kate, and his sister Samantha.