Santiago Vasquez waved at Killeen police officer Juan E. Obregon Jr. every morning as he walked his two dogs. One day about five years ago, Vasquez woke up with a surprise — children filled water guns with chocolate and squirted it on cars in the Turtle Bend neighborhood.
“Obregon, (who patrolled the area at the time), was laughing and knocking on their doors saying, ‘You have chocolate on your vehicle,’” Vazquez said.
With fond memories of an officer who made an effort to get to know the community, Vazquez was saddened to hear Obregon, 33, was shot in the leg July 13 by a man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle. SWAT officer
Robert Hornsby was killed in the shooting.
Vasquez was among several residents who got their cars washed during a fundraiser Saturday at Payless Car Sales in Killeen for Obregon and his family.
“We just have prayers for them,” said Vasquez, who has lived in Killeen for 37 years.
About 16 Killeen Police Department SWAT officers and their families supported their “brother” as they held signs along the highway and washed cars for donations.
“It’s wonderful. We couldn’t be more blessed right now,” said Jason Petty, a SWAT team leader. “Prior to the incident we were tight, and this has obviously made us closer, because you never know what tomorrow holds.”
Obregon was released from the hospital July 23 and will remain on paid leave as he recovers. “He’s doing well,” Petty said. “He’s got somebody coming to the house to help him with physical rehab. He’s getting around a lot better than he was. It’s a long road to recovery, but he’s on the right path.”
Even though the incident happened more than a month ago, the store’s general manager, Cat Patino, said it’s important to help Obregon’s family through this tragedy. “They put their lives on the line for us every day,” said Patino, a retired military police officer. “They serve us and protect us when we sleep.”