NEW YORK (AP) — Officer Rafael Ramos was called "the best father and husband and friend," and Officer Wenjian Liu was lauded for his facility with Chinese dialects, a bridge between police and community, as relatives and friends recalled the NYPD partners killed in an ambush.

Ramos and Liu were in their marked New York Police Department cruiser on a Brooklyn street Saturday when a gunman opened fire on them, then fled to a subway station where he committed suicide. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the two never had time to pull their weapons and might not have even seen their killer. The men were working out of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn as part of a special detail to help with crime reduction in the area.

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RAFAEL RAMOS

Ramos, who celebrated his 40th birthday this month, joined the NYPD in 2012 after working as a school security officer. He was a lifelong Brooklyn resident, living in the same Cypress Hills section where he had grown up.

He was married with two sons: a 13-year-old who attends middle school in Brooklyn and another at Bowdoin College in Maine. The younger son, Jaden, posted on Facebook about how much Ramos meant to him.

"He was the best father I could ask for," Jaden Ramos wrote. "It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."

Ramos' cousin, Ronnie Gonzalez, said the family has already forgiven the gunman.

"He's in the hands of God now," Gonzalez said. "We don't believe in vengeance, we just forgive."

Ramos was an active member of the Christ Tabernacle Church in the New York City borough of Queens.

"He was always encouraging us in our marriages," said Rosie Orengo, a friend of Ramos at the church.

"He was the best father and husband and friend," she said. "He was an amazing man, and he didn't deserve to die like this."

"Our peace is knowing that he's OK, and we'll see him in heaven."

The church sent out messages on Twitter mourning the loss of Ramos, and also posted a photo on Instagram of the Brooklyn Bridge with a flag flying at half-staff.

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WENJIAN LIU

The 32-year-old Liu, whose family emigrated from China when he was a teenager, had been a member of the police force for seven years, after serving previously in the police auxiliary.

He moved this year to a home in Brooklyn's Gravesend section and got married just two months ago.

Liu's parents, from the city of Toishan in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, are still limited in their English. A police sergeant, James Ng, served as translator for them at Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital, where Liu was taken after the shooting.

"His parents are understandably grief stricken over the loss of their only child," said Ng, who is president of the National Asian Peace Officers Association.

According to Ng, Liu was a valuable asset to the NYPD because he was conversant in several Chinese dialects and helped the department with community relations in heavily Chinese neighborhoods.

"A lot of Chinese families want their children to become doctors and lawyers," Ng said. "He came here and wanted to become a police officer."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said authorities were working on arrangements for other members of the Liu family to come from China to the United States for the funeral.