The 28-year-old police officer fatally shot Sunday was a dedicated officer and standout member of his communities, friends and former mentors say.
Officer 1st Class Jacai Colson died Sunday after he was accidentally shot by another officer in a shootout that erupted when a man opened fire unprovoked at police headquarters in Prince George's County, Maryland, police said Monday. The shooter's brother videotaped the attack, according to police.
Colson, who would have celebrated his 29th birthday this week, was "a great young man who was well-liked and well-respected," said his former football coach at Randolph-Macon College. Colson played there for one year.
"He was just a great human being," coach Pedro Arruza said. "He was a very positive, positive person and an upbeat guy, a good person to be around. He had a lot of friends on campus, everybody liked him. He was just a really high-character guy."
Sheriff's deputy Dominick Chambers, a friend from the police academy, said he and Colson celebrated their four-year anniversary as officers on March 12, the day before Colson was killed.
"He always wanted to be a police officer," Chambers said. "Everyone is taking it real bad, real bad. I'm talking to my classmates, checking in on them. We're not doing well."
At Chichester High School in Colson's hometown of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, the officer was remembered as a role model.
"He did it the way we want our students to do things. He graduated from high school, he went to college, he did everything the right way," Alan Manford told WCAU Philadelphia about the 2005 graduate.
"It was like a punch in the stomach this morning when I got the news," another school staffer said.
Family friends told WCAU Colson followed in his grandfather's footsteps by becoming an officer.
"Jacai was a chip off the old block for the Colson family," Rocco Gaspari said.
Friends are now helping support the family of the late officer, who is survived by his parents and younger brother, police said.
"It goes back to old school, be there for thy neighbor -- friends and family and a shoulder to cry on," Gaspari said.