BELTON — Members of the Belton Senior Activity Center rushed around Killeen Police Department officer Juan E. Obregon Jr. as they thanked him for his service more than a month after he was shot during a SWAT standoff.
“Look at my scar,” one woman said as she lifted her shorts above her knee. “I’d rather get the scar my way than yours.”
Obregon, who had surgery to add a titanium rod from his left knee to his hip due to a broken femur, is out of the hospital and rehabilitating.
Joe Ann Smith, a member of the Belton Bluebirds Quilters, wanted to make something for Obregon to show her appreciation.
“I was trying to get it done before he left the hospital. But, he went home (before) I finally got the darn thing finished,” said Smith, who gave Obregon a red, white and blue quilt Tuesday at the Belton Senior Activity Center. “It’s just to show him that we care.”
Obregon said the community’s outpouring of support is overwhelming and reminds him of “old-time Killeen.”
“My wife, (Stephanie), grew up in Killeen and that’s all she’s been talking about is how much the community has just come behind us,” Obregon said. “It just seems like the community’s eyes have been opened up to what we really do and they just stepped up, and it’s so wonderful to see the city growing and coming together.”
During the incident, which started about 11:55 p.m. July 13, Pfc. Dustin Cole, 24, grabbed an AK-47 and began firing, according to reports. The rapid-fire exchange killed KPD SWAT team member Robert Hornsby, 32, and wounded Obregon.
After being shot in the left leg, Obregon said he got on the ground and crawled behind a vehicle, which later showed about 10 bullet holes.
“I was able to just make it out,” Obregon said. His “brother,” Hornsby, didn’t.
Obregon was the assistant team leader during the mission, which meant it was his job to slow things down and get the situation under control, he said.
“We weren’t able to get there fast enough, and when we found out I lost an officer on my team, it just hurts, it takes a piece of my heart,” Obregon said.
But, Obregon said, Hornsby “went out like a warrior.”
“He faced that lion and he faced it heads up. He did his job and he did (it) well,” Obregon said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t make it out alive, but his legacy will live on through us and through his family and then it will be there forever.”
For Obregon, being a SWAT officer is a calling — something he will do until he retires from the Killeen Police Department, which was the first and only law enforcement agency he’s worked at during his 10 years of service.
“Last year I was hit by a vehicle and I was out for a year ... I had total reconstruction of my right knee and I was able to come back from that injury,” Obregon said. “I’m going to be able to come back from this.”