The barbeque was hot and the music was rocking at a benefit for the family of wounded San Antonio Police Officer Julio Cavazos on Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds of supporters turned out for a big bash at the Big Texas Ice House for food, live music, and a silent auction, with all the proceeds going to the Cavazos family.
The event was organized and executed by the Peer Support Group of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Julissa Cavazos, Julio’s wife, works for the organization. The couple joined the party late in the afternoon with their 6-year-old daughter Sofia to say thank you for the outpouring of support they have received since Julio was shot in a senseless attack on June 29.
Cavazos and Officer Miguel Moreno were attacked by a gunman on Evergreen Street while they were investigating reports of auto burglaries. Police Chief William McManus has said that the attack on the two officers by a man who then committed suicide was completely unprovoked.
The viciousness of the assault led to a groundswell of community support.
Speaking for many, one man, who only wanted to be identified as "Mo," watched the Cavazos family visit with the crowd and imparted his thanks.
“He's my hero. What he went through? That's the worst scenario any law enforcement officer can go through and then his family. Happy. Seeing them here, mingling with everybody else. It was emotional for me.”
Mo also said that seeing the family together and full of joy was a powerful moment.
“We were just looking at him, and oh my God! He looks, I mean, we hadn't seen him since it happened and so, just seeing him walking around and talking, it's a great feeling," Mo said. "I'm just happy for his family and I'm sorry what they went through and everybody else of course, but especially the family."
"All of our Special Investigators are either retired or former policemen, so we have this bond that we take care of each other. This is family," said Hank Whitman, the commissioner of the Texas DFPS. “This is the kind of emotional and financial support we need to give to our families because it's important to know that you have a supportive work family. You just don't come in for your eight- or ten-hour day and go home. This strengthens what we do in the field."
Grill master Richard Hensley drove six hours to volunteer his smoking skills for the event.
"I love doing this to give back to the community! I'm a firm supporter of the police officers, so anything I can do to help, I'll be right there coming,” Hensley said.
Scott Hensley braved the heat of the day and the 400 degree grill to work beside his brother.
“I think it’s a great thing because people have donated leave time and we have the silent auction and it's all because the special investigators with our agency are all prior law enforcement, and we're a peer support group for anything we can do to help them out in a time of need,” Scott Hensley said.
Debra Liska, whose son is a San Antonio police officer, brought family with her to the event and bought 10 plates of barbeque.
"We were actually waiting for it to happen," she said. "We were hoping they were going to do something, so it's great. We drove in about an hour away to come to it."