San Antonio Police Officer Miguel Moreno was laid to rest Friday as hundreds of his fellow officers from around the state paid their respects and Chief William McManus condemned escalating violence against police officers nationwide.
“Thirty-two years old, sixth in his class, nine years on the police force, two police officers doing their job, one pointless shooting,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said of Moreno. “His death feels like an equation that doesn’t add up.”
Moreno and fellow Officer Julio Cavazos were shot by a pedestrian they had stopped to question while on a crime prevention patrol June 29 near San Antonio College. The suspect, Andrew Bice, fatally shot himself after being wounded in an exchange of gunfire with police. Moreno died the following day.
“A cop’s cop is gone,” San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus said during the service at Community Bible Church on the Northside. “Our loss is San Antonio’s loss. It is now our job, as we’ve done too many times before, to make sure that Mo’s memory stays alive.”
McManus noted that in 2016 135 police officers died in the line of duty nationwide, the highest number in five years.
Gov. Greg Abbott noted the poignant coincidence of the day’s service, coming on the one-year anniversary of the fatal shootings of five Dallas police officers after a gunman opened fire during a peaceful protest.
“I had planned to spend a day in Dallas remembering the officers who were killed this day last July in the shootings of officers downtown,” Abbott said. “I was going to have a signing ceremony of a new law. A new law that makes today, July the 7th, Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Day in Texas.”
Instead, he was marking the passing of another officer killed in the line of duty.
After the funeral, McManus had strong words for those condoning violence against law enforcement officers.
“A police officer being gunned down and ambushed and ridiculed – it’s time to say something,” he said. “It’s just something that needs to be addressed. It’s going on all over the country, all over the world.
“A lot of folks try to be politically correct about it. I’m tired of being politically correct about this issue, because it’s putting our police officers in danger.”
Before the funeral, a procession of emergency vehicles and more than 500 officers gathered at the Alamodome and departed for Community Bible Church. On several overpasses along U.S. Highway 281, officers held up American flags and a version of the flag with a blue line through it. Commuters on both sides of the freeway pulled over in respect.
With the sound of bagpipes in the background, police officers from Austin, San Marcos, Seguin, Dallas, Bulverde, New Braunfels, and elsewhere stood at attention under the hot sun to watch the procession and a horse-drawn carriage arrive at the church.
Moreno, a Lanier High School and University of Texas at Austin graduate, entered the police force on May 19, 2008, and worked the Central B-shift as a patrolman. He is survived by his mother, father, three sisters, and a brother who also is on the force.
At the funeral, SAPD Officer Arturo Moreno began speaking with tears in his eyes and a clenched fist.
“This was the hardest week of my life,” Moreno said, remembering his brother’s fondness for fishing and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Police Officer Joshua Flanagan brought levity to the otherwise solemn service, sharing personal stories of “Big Mo,” and describing him as quiet, confident, and athletic.
Cavazos, who was released from the hospital on Tuesday, attended Moreno’s funeral and received a standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the service, a police-issued radio transmission marked Moreno’s “retirement of the badge,” which was heard throughout the city by on-duty SAPD officers. The SAPD Honor Guard then lined up for a salute, firing several shots into the sky. Three helicopters flew over the church to mark Moreno’s passing.
Moreno was laid to rest at San Fernando Cemetery.
He is the 14th SAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty since 2000, and his death follows two recent deaths of other first responders while on the job. Firefighter Scott Deem died last month fighting a large fire at a shopping center, and SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi was killed in November 2016 after being ambushed and shot in the head outside Public Safety Headquarters.
A group of about 20 officers from the Dallas Police Department came to San Antonio on Thursday to fill in for SAPD officers attending Moreno’s visitation and funeral.
“[SAPD] officers came [to Dallas] a year ago, and so today we’re here to do the same thing,” Dallas Police Officer Demarcus Turner told reporters Thursday. “We reached out to [SAPD] as soon as we could, and it’s an honor to be here. I’m lost for words, but we’re here to support our brothers and sisters in blue, and that’s what we’re going to do today and tomorrow.”
Turner talked about the bond that all police officers around the country share. “It’s very, very tough” when officers are killed in the line of duty, he said. “We’re all a tight-knit family, and the thin blue line, like they say, it’s real.”
Albert Rodriguez, 76, who served as an SAPD homicide detective from 1962-1973, attended Moreno’s visitation Thursday. He said he worked with Marconi’s father, and his own son is an SAPD officer.
“It seems now the violence has escalated, and I feel like it’s open season on police officers,” Rodriguez told the Rivard Report. “Police killings [during my time] were few and far between, and now it’s commonplace. I’ve been to too many police funerals – one of them is too many.
“For those of us in law enforcement, we have that blue blood in us and we can never get it out, and that’s why I’m here. It really isn’t easy, but I have to be here.”
Rivard Report editorial intern Jeffrey Sullivan contributed to this report.