Badge number 234 was an “officer's officer,” a widely loved colleague with an infectious positivity. To his friends, he was simply “Bobby.”
“I hope that one day I can be half the officer he was,” said officer James Plank. “I’d be satisfied with that.”
Officers from all over Central Texas came to the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Wednesday to pay their respects and share stories about Killeen police officer Robert Hornsby.
Hornsby, 32, was killed in the line of duty Sunday when called out with the SWAT team to a disturbance.
The line leading to Hornsby’s casket stretched out of the large convention hall for hours as a visitation for the slain officer continued into the night.
Officers placed a black strip of cloth with a blue line across the face of their badges to show mourning and solidarity for the fallen officer. Some of Hornsby’s oldest civilian friends wore blue shirts bearing the officer’s name and badge number.
Joining the Killeen Police Department four years ago was “a turning point” in Hornsby’s life, according to his best friend, Chuck Ellis.
Ellis went to Temple High School with Hornsby and the two have been close friends for more than 17 years.
“He was like a brother,” Ellis said. “If you ever needed anything, Bobby would be there for you. He had a heart of gold.”
Detective Tre Wingfield donned his dark green SWAT uniform at the event, paying homage to the hard work Hornsby put in to join the elite group of Killeen officers police tasked with responding to some of the most tense and dangerous situations officers can encounter.
Hornsby did not make it into the SWAT team on the first try. Wingfield said it took a lot for Hornsby to subject himself to the tests multiple times to earn entrance into the SWAT team, known as the Tactical Response Unit to KPD officers.
“He proved himself,” Wingfield said.
Hornsby’s funeral is at 10 a.m. today at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. Officials are expecting officers and well-wishers from across the state to attend.
Several city streets around the civic center will be closed during the day to allow for a large funeral procession to make its way from the civic center to Killeen City Cemetery, where Hornsby will be interred.
5K benefiting 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
Donors raised $36,420 by press time Thursday.
Road closures today
Several roads will be closed today for Robert Hornsby’s funeral, which is at 10 a.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 S. W.S. Young Drive.
From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the following roads will be closed to through traffic: W.S. Young Drive from Elms Road to Azalea Drive, Liberty Street to Atkinson Street, and the eastbound outside lane on Rancier Avenue from W.S. Young to 38th Street.
W.S. Young Drive, from Elms Road to Little Nolan Road, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
People attending the funeral or residents who live on closed portions of those streets will be allowed access.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.