A Texas police officer was shot and killed in an ambush while serving an arrest warrant on Monday, Dec. 4.
Officer Kenneth Copeland, 58, of the San Marcos, Texas, Police Department, was shot multiple times by a hidden assailant and sustained fatal wounds despite wearing a bullet-proof vest.
He was transported immediately to Central Texas Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 3:50 p.m.
“Ken is a true hero,” said Police Chief Chase Stapp in a department press release. “Our hearts are broken from the loss of not only a dedicated officer but also a phenomenal person and father.”
Copeland was the first SMPD officer to be killed in the line of duty in the history of the department.
Victim of an Ambush
Copeland was one of a group of SMPD officers who went to the Camino Real subdivision in San Marcos to serve an arrest warrant for a violent crime.
It is not clear if the gunman knew the police were coming or saw them arriving. As the officers approached the door, the gunman opened fire, without warning. Copeland was the only officer hit.
The remaining officers called in SWAT, and after a standoff and exchange of gunfire, the suspect was shot. The suspect then surrendered and was transported to the hospital.
The city of Austin, about 30 miles north, has considered getting armored patrol cars for its officers to thwart ambush attacks.
Austin, which has a population of about a million people and is a major tourist destination, has seen 7 officers killed while on duty there in the past two decades.
San Marcos has a population of only 45,000 and no prior history of officers being killed on duty.
We pray for the family of the San Marcos police officer killed in the line of duty. We remember the sacrifices our men and women in law enforcement make every day. #BackTheBlue https://t.co/ZcjVfyiVni
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) December 4, 2017
Working on His Day Off
Copeland was working on his day off, earning a little extra money for his family, the day he died.
“Today was his day off. He worked just about every day off to provide for his kids and because he knows that we are short-handed and need the help,” said Stapp, as reported by Fox News. “His picture is hanging in different parts of this police department because everybody loved him.”
“This is a time of great loss and mourning for our community,” said Mayor John Thomaides. “It is also a time for us to come together and support each other in the aftermath of this tragedy. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Officer’s Copeland’s family and fellow officers.”
The Governor and Attorney General of Texas also issued statements marking the loss of the veteran officer.
“Today we grieve for the family of the fallen San Marcos police officer, and we vow swift justice for the killer. The men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to protect and to serve our communities, and we will never forget their sacrifices,” said Governor Greg Abbott in a statement. “Cecilia [Abbott’s wife] and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the officer’s family and to the entire San Marcos Police Department.”
“Along with everyone learning of a San Marcos police officer’s murder today, I am deeply troubled and saddened,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement, “Officers around our state courageously serve and deserve our utmost honor and respect, especially during this time. Please join Angela and me as we pray for the officer’s family, the people of San Marcos, and for our law enforcement officers around the state.”
Officer Copeland was only three months shy of being a 20-year veteran of the force. Prior to that, he worked as a corrections officer with the Texas Department of Corrections from 1982 to 1990 and was a Deputy Sheriff with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office from 1990 to 1995.
He also served with the Corpus Christi sector of the U.S. Coast Guard in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Officer Copeland is survived by his wife, Sheila, and four sons, Nile, Noah, James, and Jonah.
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