SAN MARCOS - We're learning more about a San Marcos police officer killed in the line of duty this week from the people who knew him best: his fellow brothers and sisters in blue.
For many members of the San Marcos Police Department, Thursday was the first day back at work since Officer Ken Copeland was gunned down and killed on Monday.
Officer Evan Easterly had breakfast and worked a side job with Copeland hours before Copeland started his final shift.
"That was the last I'd spoken to him. He did it without any grief or 'Ugh, I gotta go work this other shift.' He just said, 'Hey, I'm going off to work the day shift,'" Officer Easterly said.
Copeland often worked on his days off to support his four children and to help with staffing shortages.
Friends say that Copeland lived a compassionate life.
In addition to working at SMPD for almost 20 years, Copeland was an active reserve for the U.S. Coast Guard.
"His best quality, which he had many, was making others around him feel comfortable, and I believe that's the definition of a gentleman," Officer Easterly said.
Easterly also recalled a recent lunch where Copeland offered this response to a citizen fighting a terminal illness:
"It's like a grandfather clock with a pendelum. And God starts that pendulum swinging in your life and we don't know when that pendulum is going to stop. It's just what you do when that pendulum is swinging. Now looking back, knowing Ken is gone, I truly believe that's how Ken viewed his life."
Officers surprised Copeland with cases of his favorite drink, Topo Chico, a couple weeks ago for his birthday.
"I could be out on an accident scene in the heat for hours and he'll show up, come over, and open a cold Topo Chico and give it to me. And I'm sure he did that to many other people, even people on the street," Corporal Candace Elrod said.
Elrod said that Topo Chico plans to donate a refrigerator with cases of the water to the department in memory of Copeland.
Officer Copeland's colleagues say that he brought people together when he was alive and even now in his death.
"This department has never been closer than it is now. We've all come together and we're a tighter family than we ever have been. And I think there's a reason for everything, and I believe Ken is probably smiling down on us right now," Elrod said.
Officer Copeland's colleagues and supporters planned to gather Thursday night in Downtown San Marcos for a candlelight vigil.
His friends say plenty of Topo Chico will be enjoyed.
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