Sheila Swasey, the mother of slain police Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in a standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, wanted her son to keep teaching ice skating, not become a police officer. But six years ago, he joined the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police department.

“It’s what he wanted to do,”she said. “How could you say no?”

Swasey, 44, was killed Friday after responding to reports of an active shooter at the clinic. He was one of 12 victims – and one of three fatalities.

Officials in Colorado Springs have not provided any detail about the exact sequence of events that led to the death of Swasey and the other victims, who have not yet been named.

The day before his death, Swasey had spent Thanksgiving with his wife, two children, mother and other relatives.

“He was kind,” his mother said in a phone interview. “He wasn’t arrogant or selfish, and I wish people could hear more about that, about how caring the police really are.”

On Saturday, President Obama praised Swasey in a statement: “May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save – and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”

“My brother was a hero in every sense of the word,” wrote Kimberly Swasey Noveletsky, Swasey’s sister, in a Facebook post. “My heart is broken, for my mother and father who have lost their only son, for his young children who barely had the chance to get to know him before he was violently torn from them and for his wife who will never grow old with him.”

The suspected shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, was taken into custody after a prolonged standoff with responding officers.

“Garrett was a guy who took his job seriously,” said Amy Oviatt, a family friend who set up a fund in Swasey’s honor.

Besides being a consummate police officer, Swasey was an elder and co-pastor at his nondenominational evangelical church, Hope Chapel. There, according to a short biography on the church’s website, he taught guitar to fellow churchgoers and helped with the chapel’s care groups.

Swasey grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts.

According to the Denver Post, Swasey and partner Hillary Tompkins finished 13th in the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and performed in ice shows at the Northern Maine Forum in Presque Isle, Maine.