The remains of Hamilton police Sgt. Kenneth Nagy Jr. are carried out of St. James Church in Salem, Mass., after his funeral yesterday.

SALEM — Family and friends celebrated the life of Kenneth Nagy yesterday, focusing on the Hamilton police sergeant's smile and faith rather than the tragedy that ended his life and injured a fellow police officer.

More than 800 people, including Nagy's widow, Katie, and his two young sons, attended the funeral Mass at St. James, a soaring Roman Catholic church on Federal Street.

Current and retired Hamilton police officers, dressed in civilian clothes rather than their uniforms, walked down the aisle behind Nagy's family and the urn that carried his ashes.

Before the Mass began, a boy handed a teddy bear to Nagy's sons, who are 7 and 5 years old.

Nagy, 43, committed suicide Feb. 24, shooting himself in the head hours after he shot and injured Beverly police officer Jason Lantych outside the Starbucks in North Beverly.

The Essex District Attorney's Office is investigating and had no new information on the probe yesterday.

The Rev. Louis Bourgeois, a retired priest at St. James who was the Nagy family's pastor at St. Paul's in Hamilton, told the funeral gathering that he had no explanation for why the tragedy happened.

"But I do know that God has given us the means and tools to deal with such tragedy, and that is love and forgiveness," Bourgeois said. "The essence of love is not perfection. We don't love somebody because they're perfect."

Two of Nagy's best friends, Ken Goulart and Frank Catapano, delivered the eulogy. Goulart said Nagy was a "man of faith," while Catapano said he will remember Nagy's smile and his "famous eye roll."

"No matter what the situation, he always smiled," Catapano said.

"It's impossible to do justice to how good a man Ken Nagy was and how much he meant to us," Goulart said.

Nagy's sisters, Donna Lewis and Carolyn Voulgardis, read from the Bible, both fighting back tears.

After the funeral, the Nagy family released a statement through the Murphy Funeral Home thanking people for their support and praying for Lantych, who is recovering at Beverly Hospital.

"Katie and her children are grateful for the enormous outpouring of support they have received and the condolences that have been extended to them during this tragedy," the statement said. "They continue to pray that Jason makes a quick and complete recovery and appreciate and are thankful for the continued respect and support from the community during their time of grief and mourning."

Beverly police officer David Costa said Lantych has begun some physical therapy and has been able to start walking.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at pleighton@salemnews.com.

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