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DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service pays homage to 19 Texas law enforcement officials who died during 2019 while in the line of duty - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Featured, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Carlos Cárdenas, MD, Chairman, Board of Managers, DHR Health; Víctor Escalón, Regional Director, Texas Department of Public Safety; and César Torres, Chief of Police, City of Edinburg, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. The men paused to reflect on the lives of Texas law enforcement officers lost in 2019, as part of the DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service. The solemn event, which was broadcast live on the Internet, is available at https://www.facebook.com/RepTerryCanales/videos/266479541400658/?tn-str=k*F’

Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH

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DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service pays homage to 19 Texas law enforcement officials who died during 2019 while in the line of duty 

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

The DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service, recently hosted by hospital system leaders and featuring Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, paid homage to 19 Texas law enforcement officials – including two from Hidalgo County – who died during 2019 while in the line of duty.

The event – a first for DHR Health – had a limited number of participants in attendance at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the dignified ceremony had a world-wide audience as it was broadcast live on the Internet. The videotape recording remains available to the public at:

2020 Hidalgo County Police Week Memorial

Today is Peace Officer Memorial Day, a day we honor and remember our fallen law enforcement officers. We have lost two in the line of duty this year in Hidalgo County alone, State Trooper Moises Sanchez and Mission PD's Jose “Speedy” Espericueta. Earlier this week, I took part in a memorial to honor these two local heroes. We must never forget our peace officers who died while in the line of duty working to keep our community safe. #Txlege #RGV #HD40

Posted by Terry Canales on Friday, May 15, 2020

The DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service took place on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, as Gov. Greg Abbott, through a gubernatorial proclamation, declared May 15, and May 10-16, respectively, as Peace Officers Memorial Day And Week.

“The men and women who dedicate their lives and careers to law enforcement strengthen the safety and security of all who call Texas home. These honorable officers enforce our laws and respond to their neighbors who are in need. When met with dangerous and uncertain situations, law enforcement officers boldly answer the call,” Abbott stated in a news release. “Sadly, these men and women do not always return home. The very individuals who work day and night to serve and protect the lives of others too often lose their own lives in the line of duty. The people of Texas grieve their loss and stand by their fellow officers, as well as their loved ones, who carry on their legacy of courage and excellence.”

https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-declares-may-15-may-10-16-respectively-peace-officers-memorial-day-and-week

On October 1, 1961, Congress asked President John F. Kennedy to designate May 15 as a day to honor peace officers, and offer support to the surviving family members and fellow officers. President Kennedy declared Peace Officers Memorial Day on October 1, 1962.

Peace Officers Memorial Day pays tribute to local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice or been injured in the line of duty. Fallen law enforcement officers represent all levels of law enforcement, including local, state, federal, tribal, and military law enforcement.

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-police-officers-memorial-day-may-15/

Mario Lizcano, Administrator of Corporate Affairs, DHR Health, who served as the Master of Ceremony, set the stage for the solemn event during his prayer that began the memorial service.

“Oh, Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving this opportunity to come together as a community. Although we are in crisis (COVID-19 pandemic), we will stand by our law enforcement personnel who every day, in and out, will go ahead and provide their services for the protection of life and property. We thank them for everything they do,” Lizcano said. “Today, we stand with them as they honor their brotherhood, and they will recognize our fallen heroes from this previous year. We ask You, Lord, that You place your hand over the families of our fallen heroes, that You bring them peace and tranquility. Above everything, Lord, we ask You that You protect all of our law enforcement officers and You provide them with the security they need. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.”

Lizcano, a former firefighter and EMT (emergency medical technician), later explained that the DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service met the highest levels of health protection for the participants. 

Social distancing was employed, and the live video was broadcast to area residents who showed up to pay their respects, but were not participants. Those individuals viewed the event at television monitors set up in the center’s hallway, and in several adjoining rooms.

Even the 21 Gun Salute took place outside of the conference room where the ceremony was being held, added Lizcano, whose ties to public safety professionals go beyond his professional life as a first responder. 

He serves on the City of Pharr Civil Service Commission, which administers processes, as set by state laws, regarding the initial selection, advancement, and conditions of employment, and agreements with employee associations. 

Lizcano also is a member of the McAllen Guns and Hoses Committee Foundation, a Texas non-profit organization consisting of police officers and firefighters in the City of McAllen who have joined together to support fellow public servants in their fight against debilitating illnesses or disabilities.

Carlos Cárdenas, MD, Chairman, Board of Managers, DHR Health, also expressed profound gratitude.

“On behalf of DHR Health, we are very, very proud to be able to be here, and to support our fallen law enforcement brethren who make it possible for us to live in a community that is free and safe,” Cárdenas said. “It wasn’t for them and their sacrifice, and for those who continue to lay their lives down every single day, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms that we have, and the community that we have.”

Anchored in southwest Edinburg, with a growing presence in neighboring McAllen, DHR Health offers some of the most comprehensive medical care on the U.S. southern border, with more than 1,400 nurses and 600+ physicians providing care in 70+ specialties and sub-specialties.

DHR Health is the flagship teaching hospital for the UTRGV School of Medicine and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital South of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 60 clinics Valley-wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and the only functioning 24/7 Level 1 Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

DHR Health is headquartered on a 130-acre site, with most of the facilities in southwest Edinburg but with a growing South Campus immediately across Owassa Road in northwest McAllen.

Canales, who also serves as Chair, House Committee on Transportation, expressed alarm and heartbreak at the loss of life for Texas law enforcement officers during 2019.

“We’re here today to honor the memory and mourn the loss of 19 fellow Texans, to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try to find some meaning amidst our sorrow,” Canales said. “This is a stunning number: 19. It’s a number which should truly give us pause. Nineteen brave officers –who gave their lives to protect and serve the safety of our community, to defend our freedoms. They are forever bound together by an unbreakable bond of valor. They each gave us, as Lincoln said, ‘The last full measure of devotion.’” 

Emphasizing the “special burden” courageously taken by law enforcement professionals and their families,  the House District 40 state representative said, “Although there is no speech and no ceremony that we could give, that we could hold, that could ease your pain – no tribute, no salute – tonight, we gather virtually (on the Internet) to honor the courage and to fill your hearts with our gratitude, to show how proud we are of the job that you do.”

Canales noted the passing in the line of duty of South Texas own law enforcement officers: Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moisés Sánchez, and Mission Police Department Corporal José “Speedy” Espericueta, Jr.

“Trooper Sánchez was a Marine who left the military to join law enforcement and the Texas Department of Public Safety. On April 6, 2019, Trooper Sánchez responded to a car accident here in the City of Edinburg which turned into a fatal shooting. He ultimately succumbed to his complications from his gunshot wounds on August 24, 2019,” he said. “Trooper Sánchez left behind a loving wife, Yvonne Sánchez, along with their children Zebastian, Zachary, and Zoey.”

In honor of Sánchez and Espericueta, Jr., Canales presented a certificate from the Texas Legislature, along with a Texas flag flown over the Texas Capitol, in posthumous (after the death) honor of both men, and in acknowledgement of their surviving families.

Víctor Escalón, Regional Director, Texas Department of Public Safety, accepted the Texas Legislature’s certificate and Texas flag on behalf of the Sánchez’ family.

“Mr. Canales, thank you very much,” Escalón said. “It is very humbling to receive this gift. Thank you again.”

DHR Health’s Cárdenas accepted the Texas Legislature’s certificate and Texas flag on behalf of the Espericueta family.

“Corporal Espericueta, Jr. was an 18-year law enforcement veteran, most of which he served with the City of Mission. He responded to a call for assistance from a fellow officer and he rushed to the scene to help. He gave his life,” Canales said. “He is survived by his lifelong high school sweetheart and wife of 21-years, Roberta “Bobbie” De León Espericueta, and their two children, Brianna and Joaquín.”

Canales read aloud the names of the 19 fallen law enforcement officers, and after each name, a ceremonial bell was struck once, a tradition to announce that a comrade has come home for a final time.

“This time, we would like to honor all the fallen law officers and call out what is called the 2020 Roll Call, he explained, followed by the statement, “End of Watch”.

The End of Watch Call or Last Radio Call is a ceremony in which, after a police officer‘sdeath (usually in the line of duty but sometimes from illness), the officers from his or her unit or department gather around a police radio, over which the police dispatcher issues one call to the officer, followed by a silence, then a second call, followed by silence, then finally announces that the officer has failed to respond because he or she has fallen in the line of duty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_Watch_Call

Canales announced each of the fallen officer’s names and End of Watch in the following order:

• Falls County Deputy Sheriff Matt Jones
End of Watch: Friday, October 11, 2019

• Panola County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Dickerson
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

• Harris County Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal,
End of Watch: Friday, September 27, 2019

• Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moisés Sánchez
End of Watch: Saturday, August 24, 2019

• Detective Clinton Martínez
San Antonio ISD Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Bryan Charles Pfluger
San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

• Sgt. Christopher Brewster
Houston Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 7, 2019

• Sgt. Kaila Marie Sullivan
Nassau Bay Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Carlos Aaron ”Smiley” Ramírez
Kendle County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

• Corporal José “Speedy” Espericueta
Mission Police Department
End of Watch: Thursday, June 20, 2019

• Sgt. Davey Jones Fitzpatrick
The Colony Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, June 10, 2019

• Police Officer Albert Ramírez Castañeda, Jr.
Grand Prairie Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, June 7, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Peter Herrera
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Sunday, March 21, 2019

• Police Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg
Midland Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

• Border Patrol Agent Donna Marie Doss
United States Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection
United States Border Patrol
End of Watch: Saturday, February 2, 2019

• Community Supervision Officer Russel Dean Salazar
Kendle County Supervision and Corrections Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 31, 2019

• K9 Chucky
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Friday, January 25, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Ray Elwin Horn, III
Comal County Sheriff’s Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 17, 2019

• Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Norman D. Merkle
United States Department of Justice
United States Marshall Service
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 26, 2019

Also featured during the event were members of the Edinburg Police Department, who performed the National Anthem, formed the Color Guard, and presented the 21 Gun Salute, under the guidance of Torres, the city’s police chief.

The National Anthem was sung by Edinburg Police Officer Arielle Benedict.

Comprising the Color Guard were:

• Investigator José Guzmán;
• Investigator Marco Miranda;
• Investigator David Escobedo; and
• Investigator Daniel Arredondo;

The 21 Gun Salute was presented by:  

• Inv. Marco Miranda;
• Inv. David Escobedo;
• Officer Héctor Colón;
• Officer José Lara;
• Officer Joel Del Villar;
• Officer Eric Salazar;
• Officer Héctor Chávez; and
• Officer Johny Amaro.

In addition to the Edinburg police department participation, neighboring City of Pharr also provided traditional bagpipe performances by the Pharr Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums, which is a nonprofit organization made up of firefighters from the Pharr Fire Department. 

Lt. Octaviano Hernández, Lt. Cody Baker, Carlos Cabello, and Ricky Domínguez performed as the attending members of the Pharr Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums.

Torres and Cárdenas brought a black and blue memorial wreath and situated it in a place of honor in the room holding the ceremony, followed by the 21 Gun Salute, and the playing of “Taps”.

It has been a tremendous honor for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to be everyone this afternoon, and with everyone who has been watching – what I believe is a sacred event – truly remember all of those who have fallen in the line of duty so that all of us can continue in the lives that we have grown accustomed,” Cárdenas said. “It is truly an honor to be able to present and be with you this afternoon, to do this. I can’t think of a more solemn event. I was very moved by the 21 Gun Salute, from the comments from the families, everything that we stand for as a health system, as a community, is what this is really all about. Thank you to all of you who came to share this with us this afternoon.”

Lizcano offered a special thanks to the Edinburg Police Department Honor Guard, to the Pharr Honor Guard, and to our committee that coordinated the memorial service, including:

• John Garza, Director, the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance;
• Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice President, DHR Health;
• Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Legal Counsel, Governmental Affairs, DHR Health;
• Sgt. María Montalvo, Texas Department of Public Safety; and
• City of Edinburg Police Chief César Torres, for showing his commitment to law enforcement, for allowing DHR Health to have this event with his support and guidance, and for allowing DHR Health to have an honorable and memorable event for the community.

The DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service, although small in attendance because of the audience attendance limitations as a result of COVID-19, was huge in symbolism.

“We thank each and everyone of you on behalf of DHR Health for allowing us to come into your homes, into  you businesses, into your offices, so we can share this time with those in who we believe – our law enforcement family that we have. We stand with them as they honor their brotherhood,” Lizcano said.

BIOGRAPHY OF FALLEN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
AS PROVIDED BY THE OFFICERS DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE

https://www.odmp.org

1. Falls County Deputy Sheriff Matt Jones 
End of Watch: Friday, October 11, 2019

Falls County Deputy Sheriff Matt Jones was struck and killed by a vehicle as he and the chief of the Riesel Police Department assisted a disabled motorist on Texas 6 near County Road 190.

Another vehicle approaching the scene hydroplaned on the wet road surface and struck both officers. Deputy Jones was killed and the police chief was seriously injured. Deputy Jones’ canine partner was in their patrol car and was not injured.

Deputy Jones had served with the Falls County Sheriff’s Office for four years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and siblings.

2. Panola County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Dickerson
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Deputy Sheriff Chris Dickerson was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on FM 10 near FM 2260 in Gary City at 2:00 am.

During the stop the driver suddenly exited the vehicle and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, shooting Deputy Dickerson six times. Nearby residents who heard the gunshots found Deputy Dickerson in the roadway. He was transported to a local hospital where he died a short time later.

The subject who shot him fled to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he was apprehended by a police canine after being involved in a vehicle crash. He remains in custody awaiting extradition on capital murder charges.

Deputy Dickerson was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Panola County Sheriff’s Office for eight years. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

3. Harris County Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal,
End of Watch: Friday, September 27, 2019

Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop in the 14800 block of Willancy Court at approximately 12:45 pm.

As Deputy Dhaliwal was returning to his patrol car one of the passengers exited the vehicle and ran toward him while opening fire. Deputy Dhaliwal was struck multiple times. He was flown to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds several hours later.

The man who shot him fled to a nearby business where he was arrested by a responding deputy. The man had been wanted since 2017 for absconding from parole.

Deputy Dhaliwal had served with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years.

4. Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moisés Sánchez
End of Watch: Saturday, August 24, 2019

Trooper Moisés Sánchez had responded to a hit-and-run vehicle crash at the intersection of N 10th Street and W. Freddy Gonzalez Drive. He located the suspect approximately one block away, in the 1500 block of South Maltese Street, and attempted to take him into custody. The subject shot him during the arrest.

Trooper Sánchez was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. He succumbed to complications of his wounds on August 24th, 2019, following surgery.

The suspect was arrested following a manhunt. He was charged with capital murder after Trooper Sánchez passed away.

Trooper Sánchez had served with the Texas Highway Patrol for four years.

In October 2019, the corner where he was shot was renamed Trooper Moises Sanchez Blvd.

5. Detective Clinton Martínez
San Antonio ISD Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

Detective Clifton John Martinez was intentionally struck and killed by a vehicle after he broke up a fight at an IHOP restaurant at 739 Hot Wells Boulevard at about 3:00 am.

He was working secondary employment at the restaurant when the fight broke out between several patrons. Detective Martinez was able to move the subjects out of the restaurant and into the parking lot when he was attacked by at least two people and knocked to the ground. While he was still on the ground the subjects entered a car and intentionally ran over him, pinning him under the vehicle. They then fled on foot and remain at large.

One of the subjects was arrested approximately 12 hours later and charged with murder.

Detective Martinez had served with the San Antonio Independent School District Police Department for 28 years and had previously served with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

6. Deputy Sheriff Bryan Charles Pfluger
San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

Deputy Sheriff Bryan Pfluger was killed in a vehicle crash at the intersection of Hill Land and Davey Lane in Coldspring at 6:45 pm.

He was responding to a burglary call and traveling behind another deputy. As the deputy in the first patrol car slowed to make a turn, Deputy Pfluger swerved to avoid a rear-end collision. Deputy Pfluger’s patrol car clipped the other patrol car and then overturned. Deputy Pfluger, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries.

Deputy Pfluger was a U.S. Army National Guard veteran. He had served with the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office for four years and had previously served with the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office and Rising Star Police Department. He is survived by his son, mother, father, sister, and brother.

7. Sgt. Christopher Charles Lewis Brewster
Houston Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 7, 2019

Sergeant Christopher Brewster was shot and killed while responding to a domestic assault at about 6:00 pm.

A woman had called 911 and reported that she had been assaulted by her boyfriend and that he was armed with two firearms. When officers arrived at the scene both subjects had already left. Sergeant Brewster was checking the area when he saw the couple walking in the 7400 block of Avenue L.

Sergeant Brewster attempted to contact them but was fired upon as he exited his patrol car. Despite being struck in the chest above his vest, he was able to give dispatchers and other officers a description of his wounds and the subject’s direction of travel.

Sergeant Brewster was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

The man was arrested by other officers following a foot pursuit. He was subsequently charged with capital murder.

Sergeant Brewster had served with the Houston Police Department for nine years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and three sisters.

8. Sgt. Kaila Marie Sullivan
Nassau Bay Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Sergeant Kaila Sullivan was killed when she was intentionally struck by a vehicle driven while attempting to arrest a wanted subject in the 2000 block of San Sebastian Court at 8:30 pm.

Officers had conducted a traffic stop on the man who was wanted on a warrant for domestic assault. When they attempted to place him in custody he began to resist and was able to re-enter his vehicle. He struck fatally Sergeant Sullivan as he fled the area in the vehicle.

Sergeant Sullivan was transported to HCA Clear Lake Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The vehicle was found abandoned a short distance away. The man was arrested on December 12th, 2019.

Sergeant Sullivan had served with the Nassau Bay Police Department for 16 years. She is survived by her wife and son.

9. Deputy Sheriff Carlos Aaron “Smiley” Ramírez
Kendall County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Kendall County Deputy Sheriff Carlos Aaron “Smiley” Ramírez was fatally struck by a vehicle during a traffic stop near Boerne.

Deputy Sheriff Ramírez was killed as he and another deputy were conducting a traffic stop July 2 on Interstate 10 near Boerne, according to officials with the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office and the National Police Foundation.

He was born in Juarez, Mexico on July 1, 1987. He graduated from Burges High School in 2006. At the age of 20, he enlisted his services and dedicated his life to serve in the United States Army where he served many tours overseas to include Iraq 2011 & Djibouti 2018/19. He had been recently been promoted to Staff Sergeant.

In December of 2016, Deputy Sheriff Ramírez began his career in Law Enforcement with the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office

He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, sister, mother, father, and many nieces and nephews.

10. Corporal José “Speedy” Espericueta, Jr.
Mission Police Department
End of Watch: Thursday, June 20, 2019

Corporal José Espericueta was shot and killed as he and other officers attempted to apprehend a subject who had threatened family members.

A woman flagged down officers in the area of Stewart Road and Business Highway 83 and told them that her son had just shot at her car with a handgun. Corporal Espericueta and other officers responded to the scene and located the subject, who then fled on foot.

As the man ran he turned and opened fire, striking Corporal Espericueta multiple times. Other officers returned fire and killed the man.

Corporal Espericueta had served with the Mission Police Department for 13 years and had previously served with the San Benito Police Department for five years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

11. Sgt. Davey Jones Fitzpatrick
The Colony Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, June 10, 2019

Sergeant David Fitzpatrick suffered a fatal heart attack after participating in the department’s wellness program on June 7, 2019.

He collapsed after returning to his office after working out. He was transported to a local hospital where he passed away on June 10, 2019, without having regained consciousness.

Sergeant Fitzpatrick was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with The Colony Police Department for over 34 years. He is survived by his wife.

12. Police Officer Albert Ramírez Castañeda, Jr.
Grand Prairie Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, June 7, 2019

Police Officer Albert Ramírez Castañeda, Jr. was struck and killed by a vehicle while running radar on the President George Bush Turnpike, near Dickey Road, at 10:30 am.

A 17-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle and struck Officer Castaneda, throwing him off the elevated roadway. Officer Castaneda was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Officer Castaneda was a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. He had served with the Grand Prairie Police Department for five years and had previously served with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office for six years. He is survived by two children.

13. Deputy Sheriff Peter Herrera
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Sunday, March 21, 2019

Deputy Sheriff Peter Herrera succumbed to wounds sustained when he was shot after pulling over a vehicle in San Elizario at 1:50 am.

He had stopped the vehicle for a registration violation near the corner of Chicken Ranch Road and Socorro Road. He approached the car and asked the driver to step out. As the driver exited the vehicle he fired 15 rounds, striking Deputy Herrera multiple times. Deputy Herrera did not have an opportunity to draw his own weapon.

The driver and the passenger then fled the scene in the vehicle, but it stalled out several blocks away. The two then fled on foot but were located and apprehended a short time later by responding deputies. The driver was charged with capital murder and the passenger was also charged with other crimes in connection with Deputy Herrera’s murder.

A civilian and members of the U.S. Border Patrol and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office provided aid to Deputy Herrera. He was transported to a local hospital in critical condition where he succumbed to his wounds two days later.

Deputy Herrera had served with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for 11 years. He is survived by his wife.

14. Police Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg
Midland Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Police Officer Nathan Heidelberg was shot and killed while responding to a burglary alarm at a residence at 3306 Eagle Cove in Midland.

Officer Heidelberg, a probationary officer he was training, and two other officers had responded to the alarm call at 2:30 a.m. They were at the open front door making loud announcements identifying themselves when the homeowner opened fire toward the flashlight Officer Heidelberg was holding. Officer Heidelberg was struck by a round above his vest.

He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds at 8:30 a.m.

The homeowner who shot him was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

Officer Heidelberg had served with the Midland Police Department for five years.

In 2019, officials honored Officer Heidelberg by renaming a portion of local highway FM 307 to Nathan Heidelberg Memorial Highway (located between Interstate 20 and FM 1379).

Officer Heidelberg is survived by his parents and three sisters.

15. Border Patrol Agent Donna Marie Doss
United States Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection
United States Border Patrol
End of Watch: Saturday, February 2, 2019

Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss was struck and killed by a vehicle on the south service road of I-20 near mile marker 276, between Tye and Merkel, Texas.

She had responded to the location to assist a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper determine the status of a subject believed to be in the country illegally.

Agent Doss had served with the United States Border Patrol for 16 years and was assigned to the Del Rio Sector. She is survived by her husband, two stepsons, parents, brother, and sister.

16. Community Supervision Officer Russel Dean Salazar
Kendle County Supervision and Corrections Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 31, 2019

Community Supervision Officer Rusty Salazar was killed in a single-vehicle crash at the interchange of I-10 and U.S. 87 in Kendall County.

He was returning to his office after conducting a field visit with a high-risk sex offender. He was attempting to enter the interstate during a period of rain and low visibility. His vehicle left the roadway and overturned four times. He suffered fatal injuries when he was ejected from the vehicle.

Officer Salazar had served with the Kendall County Community Supervision and Corrections Department for over 11 years. He is survived by his wife and five children.

17. K9 Chucky
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Friday, January 25, 2019

K9 Chucky was shot and killed in the area of West Loop 1604 and Highway 151 while attempting an apprehension of a subject following a vehicle pursuit.

The pursuit had started in Karnes City and had traveled through Karnes County and Wilson County before entering Bexar County. K9 Chucky was deployed for an apprehension after the vehicle stopped. K9 Chucky was able to bite the subject before the man produced a handgun and fatally shot him.

Other deputies and troopers returned fire, wounding the man.

K9 Chucky had served with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office for four years and was trained in narcotics detection and patrol.

18. Deputy Sheriff Ray Elwin Horn, III
Comal County Sheriff’s Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 17, 2019

Deputy Sheriff Ray Elwin Horn, III, suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after participating in his agency’s mandatory physical fitness testing.

He had completed the testing and left the facility when he suffered the heart attack while driving his patrol car near the intersection of FM 3009 and Dimrock, in Schertz, at 5:15 pm. His patrol car then collided with two other vehicles at the intersection. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Deputy Horn was a U.S Air Force veteran and had served with the Comal County Sheriff’s Office for 11-1/2 years. He is survived by his wife.

19. Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Norman D. Merkle
United States Department of Justice
United States Marshall Service
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 26, 2019

Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Norman Merkel suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in his agency’s wellness program inside the United States Courthouse in Corpus Christi, Texas.

A court security officer performed CPR after he was located but was unable to revive him.

Deputy Marshal Merkel was a U.S. Army veteran. He had served with the United States Marshals Service for 18 years and was the commander of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force. He had previously served with the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota, for three years. He is survived by his mother and two sisters.

TRANSCRIPTION OF DHR HEALTH LAW ENFORCEMENT MEMORIAL SERVICE

Mario Lizcano
Administrator of Corporate Affairs
DHR Health

I would like to welcome each and everyone of you to the DHR Health Law Enforcement Memorial Service, on Wednesday, May 13, (2020), from the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. We would like to thank the City of Edinburg and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce for working with us in taking this opportunity, not only to support our law enforcement, but standing with their brotherhood/sisterhood at this time, when they will be honoring the fallen heroes.

We thank everyone who tunes in, and we ask you that you stay reverent in observance of the ceremony tonight. With that, we will begin this event.

Pharr Fire Department Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums Performs

Mario Lizcano: Please remain standing as we will be providing The Pledge of Allegiance, followed by The National Anthem, sung by Edinburg Police Department Public Information Officer Arielle Benedict.

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Officer Arielle Benedict
Edinburg Police Department

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Edinburg Police Department Honor Guard Presents Flags

Mario Lizcano: Please remain standing, and please bow your head, and we will start this program with an invocation.

Oh, Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving this opportunity to come together as a community. Although we are in crisis (COVID-19 pandemic), we will stand by our law enforcement personnel who every day, in and out, will go ahead and provide their services for the protection of life and property. We thank them for everything they do. Today, we stand with them as they honor their brotherhood, and they will recognize our fallen heroes from this previous year. We ask You, Lord, that You place your hand over the families of our fallen heroes, that You bring them peace and tranquility. Above everything, Lord, we ask You that You protect all of our law enforcement officers and You provide them with the security they need. We ask this in your precious name. Amen. 

Next, we will bring up, with the official welcome from DHR Health, our Chairman of the Board, Dr. Carlos Cárdenas.

Carlos Cárdenas, MD
Chairman, Board of Managers
DHR Health

Thank you, Mario. On behalf of DHR Health, we are very, very proud to be able to be here, and to support our fallen law enforcement brethren who make it possible for us to live in a community that is free and safe. It wasn’t for them and their sacrifice, and for those who continue to lay their lives down every single day, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms that we have, and the community that we have. On behalf of DHR Health, we are very, very happy to welcome all of you today for this Memorial Service.

It gives me great please to invite to the podium, State Representative Terry Canales, House District 40, who, with his leadership, has continued to develop the strength that we need in our community with the bringing of a Level 1 Trauma Center to our area to help support those in the field. His leadership has been second to none, and I invite Terry to come up now to continue with the memorial service. 

State Rep. Terry Canales: Thank you, Dr. Cárdenas

Every year, we gather to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement and the officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Unfortunately, due to the (COVID-19) pandemic, we’re not able to be physically gather together as we usually do. But we want the families to know that we stand in solidarity with them. I want them to know that we honor their sacrifice and will always carry them in our hearts, our thoughts, regardless of whatever challenges we face. 

I hope and ask everyone to remain safe as we weather this pandemic, and that we stay strong and united as a community that relies on one another. This is an especially solemn year because Hidalgo County has seen two of our beloved officers perish in the line of duty.

The Department of Public Safety Trooper Moisés Sánchez. 

Trooper Sánchez was a Marine who left the military to join law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety. On April 6, 2019, Trooper Sánchez  responded to a car accident here in the City of Edinburg which turned into a fatal shooting. He ultimately succumbed to his complications from his gunshot wounds on August 24, 2019.

Trooper Sánchez left behind a loving wife, Yvonne Sánchez, along with their children Zebastian, Zachary, and Zoey.

At this time, I would like to present on behalf of the State of Texas an honorary certificate in memory of Moisés Sánchez, to Víctor Escalón, Regional Director of the Texas DPS.

Director Escalón, if you would join me, as I present, on behalf of the State of Texas, in honor of Trooper Moisés Sánchez, in his valiant effort to represent the State of Texas, in honor of his life, and also a flag that was flown over the Texas Capitol in his honor.

Víctor Escalón
Regional Director
Texas Department of Public Safety

Mr. Canales, Thank you very much. It is very humbling to receive this gift. Thank you again.

State Rep. Canales: Thank you. This time, I would like to honor the memory of  Corporal José “Speedy” Espericueta, Jr. Corporal Espericueta was an 18-year law enforcement veteran, most of which he served with the City of Mission. He responded to a call for assistance from a fellow officer and he rushed to the scene to help. He gave his life.

He is survived by his lifelong high school sweetheart and wife of 21-years, Roberta “Bobbie” De León Espericueta, and their two children, Brianna and Joaquín.

I would like to present, on behalf of the State of Texas – and receiving the certificate is Dr. Cárdenas with DHR. I would like to present that certificate and flag in honor of Corporal Espericueta.

Dr. Cárdenas, on behalf of the State of Texas, a certificate in memory of Corporal Espericueta and a flag flown over the State Capitol in his honor.

Carlos Cárdenas, MD: On behalf of the City of Mission, its police department, and the family of José “Speedy” Espericueta, Jr., I accept this.

State Rep. Canales: Thank you for accepting this.

This time, we would like to honor all the fallen law officers and call out what is called the 2020 Roll Call.

• Falls County Deputy Sheriff Matt Jones
End of Watch: Friday, October 11, 2019

• Panola County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Dickerson
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

• Harris County Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal,
End of Watch: Friday, September 27, 2019

• Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moisés Sánchez
End of Watch: Saturday, August 24, 2019

• Detective Clinton Martínez
San Antonio ISD Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Bryan Charles Pfluger
San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Saturday, December 21, 2019

• Sgt. Christopher Brewster
Houston Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, December 7, 2019

• Sgt. Kaila Marie Sullivan
Nassau Bay Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Carlos Aaron ”Smiley” Ramírez
Kendle County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

• Corporal José “Speedy” Espericueta
Mission Police Department
End of Watch: Thursday, June 20, 2019

• Sgt. Davey Jones Fitzpatrick
The Colony Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, June 10, 2019

• Police Officer Albert Ramírez Castañeda, Jr.
Grand Prairie Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, June 7, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Peter Herrera
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Sunday, March 21, 2019

• Police Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg
Midland Police Department
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

• Border Patrol Agent Donna Marie Doss
United States Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection
United States Border Patrol
End of Watch: Saturday, February 2, 2019

• Community Supervision Officer Russel Dean Salazar
Kendle County Supervision and Corrections Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 31, 2019

• K9 Chucky
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: Friday, January 25, 2019

• Deputy Sheriff Ray Elwin Horn, III
Comal County Sheriff’s Department
End of Watch: Thursday, January 17, 2019

• Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Norman D. Merkle
United States Department of Justice
United States Marshall Service
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 26, 2019

Mario Lizcano: Thank you, Chairman Canales. Thank you for reading those names and honoring the 2020 Class. At this time, we will be asking for our special guests to please stand by their seats. Our next step will be the presentation of our Memorial Wreath. We will do a special presentation by the Chairman of the Board for DHR Health, Dr. Carlos Cárdenas, and City of Edinburg Police Chief César Torres.

Pharr Fire Department Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums Performs

State Rep. Canales: We’re here today to honor the memory and mourn the loss of 19 fellow Texans, to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try to find some meaning amidst our sorrow. This is a stunning number: 19. It’s a number which should truly give us pause. Nineteen brave officers – who gave their lives to protect and serve the safety of our community, to defend our freedoms. They are forever bound together by an unbreakable bond of valor. They each gave us, as Lincoln said, “The last full measure of devotion.” 

To the country we love so dearly and the community we hold by our hearts, to the husbands, the wives, the parents, the children, the families, the friends, and fellow officers, and all those who have been touched by the lives we honor, you have been called upon to bear a special burden. Although there is no speech and no ceremony that we could give, that we could hold, that could ease your pain – no tribute, no salute – tonight, we gather virtually (on the Internet) to honor the courage and to full your hearts with our gratitude, to show how proud we are of the job that you do.

The brave men and women who embark upon the life of law enforcement know fully that they might one day be called upon their own lives, the ultimate call of duty. Those we honor tonight made that choice willingly, indeed, they embraced it. That is why their ultimate sacrifice means so much.

They served and sacrificed for a purpose far greater than themselves. I can think of no truer definition of a hero. May God bless the men and women, who have given their lives in service of our nation. I am truly grateful to be here, to honor them, to honor their families. May God bless each and everyone of them. Thank you for your service.

Mario Lizcano: Thank you, Chairman Canales, for those kind words. Next, we will hear from Regional Director Víctor Escalón of the Texas Department of Public Safety, for a response from the family members.

Víctor Escalón: Thank you, Mr. Lizcano. I just want to say thank you, thank DHR , thank Dr. Cárdenas, Mr. Canales, Chief Torres, the City of Edinburg, the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburg, for supporting and hosting this event. This is such an honor to be able to respect the families and the fallen officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Much respect to everyone here. 

Mario Lizcano: At this time, I will ask for our guests to stand by their seats as we will have the Edinburg Police Department Honor Guard present the 21 Gun Salute, followed by the playing of ‘Taps’.

Edinburg Police Department presents 21 Gun Salute, followed by playing of ‘Taps.”

Mario Lizcano: Thank you, Edinburg Police Department Honor Guard. We ask that DHR Health Chairman of the Board Dr. Carlos Cárdenas provide us with some closing remarks. Afterwards, we will announce the committee that assisted with this ceremony. 

Carlos Cárdenas, MD: Thank you, again, Mario. It has been a tremendous honor for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to be everyone this afternoon, and with everyone who has been watching – what I believe is a sacred event –truly remember all of those who have fallen in the line of duty so that all of us can continue in the lives that we have grown accustomed. It is truly an honor to be able to present and be with you this afternoon, to do this. I can’t think of a more solemn event. I was very moved by the 21 Gun Salute, from the comments from the families, everything that we stand for as a health system, as a community, is what this is really all about. Thank you to all of you who came to share this with us this afternoon. Have a great evening.

Mario Lizcano: Thank you, Dr. Cárdenas, and thank you from DHR Health’s Board of Managers, physicians, and employees. We’d like to give a special thanks to the Edinburg Police Department Honor Guard, to the Pharr Honor Guard, and to our committee that allowed us to have this event,

We would liked to thank:

• John Garza, Director, Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance;
• Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice President, DHR Health;
• Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Legal Counsel, Governmental Affairs, DHR Health;
• Sgt. María Montalvo, Texas Department of Public Safety; and especially to
• City of Edinburg Police Chief César Torres, for always showing his commitment to law enforcement, for allowing us to have this event with his support and guidance, and allowing us to have an honorable and memorable event for our community.

We thank each and everyone of you on behalf of DHR Health for allowing us to come into your homes, into  you businesses, into your offices, so we can share this time with those in who we believe – our law enforcement family that we have. We stand with them as they honor their brotherhood. 

Good night, God bless each and everyone of you, and God Bless the United States of America.

Pharr Fire Department Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums Performs

••••••

For more information, please contact Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health, or Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health, at 956/362-7165.  For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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