Ayala's wife, 27-year-old Melissa, sat in the audience, pregnant with their triplets. She was just one of many loved ones who attended a tribute to fallen officers at the Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville, Md.
Her husband was killed last month when his car hit a tree in the Wheaton area.
"It is surreal and out of this world I am actually … a widow and I have four babies. It’s hard," said Melissa Ayala, who in the same breath thanked the community for the outpouring of support.
A rosary that Ayala gave his wife rests around her neck. The Catholic religious symbol was blessed, she said, at his funeral.
"He was a great man," she said. "I hope he is proud of me staying strong and he knows I will do whatever I have to do to make sure our children are taken care of. He will never be forgotten and I will miss him always."
The 16 officers remembered today are the only officers in the department's history who have died in the line of duty. County Executive Isiah Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger spoke at the event. Candles were also lit to remember each of the officers.
Today's event was held in conjunction with National Police Week.