He was her hero.
Kimberly Hornsby walked to the podium and faced more than a thousand people who had packed the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Thursday to honor her husband, Killeen police officer Robert “Bobby” Hornsby.
Kimberly Hornsby’s voice wavered as she asked the crowd to bear with her. She thanked everyone who attended and read the policeman’s prayer. Her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son sat in the audience watching, too young to realize the depth of pain their mother was experiencing.
“I would rather have this pain and have known him than to not know him at all,” she told the crowd. “He is my hero.”
Following her brief eulogy, the crowd stood and applauded her courage.
A 24-year-old man shot and killed Hornsby early Sunday during a SWAT standoff, sending a shock wave of grief through Killeen’s law enforcement community.
Hundreds of police officers from Houston, El Paso, Dallas and scores of towns in-between were in attendance Thursday. The packed service left hundreds standing at the back of the large convention hall during the ceremony, which First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Randy Wallace officiated.
Robert Hornsby, 32, is the first Killeen police officer killed in the line of duty in more than 95 years.
“We live in a world of good and evil,” Wallace said. “When these forces collide, often there is carnage.”
Wallace said he thought about the terminology when he was told Hornsby had gone out on that call late Saturday night and didn’t make it back. He said that final call was God calling Hornsby back to him.
“Our life is supposed to be about a calling; God calls and we answer,” Wallace said.
Wallace described Hornsby’s “infectious” personality that led to instant connections with friends and colleagues. Indeed, since he died, several have argued about who was Hornsby’s best friend, Wallace said.
Killeen police Chief Dennis Baldwin called the enormous turnout an “outpouring of love.”
It led to a massive funeral procession of more than 50 police motorcycles, hundreds of cruisers and SWAT vehicles that shut down W.S. Young Drive as Hornsby was brought to his final resting place at Killeen City Cemetery.
Officers lined the entrance way, and the hearse carrying Hornsby’s casket was led by bagpipers and a drum line from the Austin Police Department. To honor their fellow SWAT member, members of Killeen’s Tactical Response Team donned blue tactical uniforms.
“My family and I are overwhelmingly humbled by it all,” Kimberly Hornsby said after the service. “We just feel like Bobby is a hero and he deserves that. We are just thankful for all the people who showed up.”
Hornsby made it a career goal to join the SWAT team. After trying out multiple times, he was accepted in December. The elite unit is a squad of officers held to higher fitness requirements than other officers.
They are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and tasked with responding to some of the most dangerous situations police officers can face.
It was a desire to have a career his children would be proud of that led Hornsby into law enforcement. By all accounts, he was a highly regarded officer known for treating everyone fairly and possessed an overwhelming positivity that influenced other officers.
The pastor equated Hornsby’s profession to a protection of family and a protection of community.
“We say ‘well done, our dutiful servant,’” Wallace said.
5K to benefit Hornsby family set for Saturday
Crossfit Killeen organized “Hero 5K Run” to raise money for the family of slain Killeen police officer Robert Hornsby.
The run will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Killeen Community Center, at 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. A $10 minimum donation is required to participate.
For more information, contact Greg Brown at Crossfit Killeen, 501 W. Elms Road, or call (254) 338-3471.
A donation website for Robert Hornsby’s family was set up at www.hornsbyfamilyfund.com.
A local bank account was set up at Extraco Banks, Benefit for Robert Hornsby, account number 20396883.
Checks may be mailed to: Extraco Banks, Attn.: Benefit of Robert Hornsby, P.O. Box 2330, Harker Heights, TX 76548
As of press time Thursday, $40,270 had been raised.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.