SAN ANTONIO - As San Antonio prepares to bury Officer Miguel Moreno on Friday, Wednesday marks the anniversary of another somber loss.
San Antonio Police Officer Eddie Gorrell died on July 5, 1988, after being shot in the head while on foot patrol downtown.
He was injured in February, and for four long months, he lingered in a coma from which he did not recover.
Marking his death, his widow, Linda, talked about what helped her get through those hard early days, and what ordinary people can do now to help the family of Officer Miguel Moreno, who died in an eerily similar attack by a gunman last Thursday afternoon.
Moreno’s partner, Officer Julio Cavazos, was also shot in that attack, but he has since been released from the hospital.
Sitting in the city park named in her late husband's honor, Gorrell said there is no doubt in her mind that Eddie lives on.
"No doubt whatsoever. No doubt. I can feel him more here than I can going out to the cemetery," Gorrell said.
Gorrell said the shady, heavily wooded park is a perfect place to remember the happy times.
“It's the peacefulness. I can come here and just sit, talk to Eddie. I know that there's somebody out there,” Gorrell said.
Gorrell said one easy way to honor the sacrifice of Moreno is to talk about him.
"Don't think it's taboo to talk about the person. You want to hear the good stories about them. Even the bad stories. It was their life," Gorrell said.
Gorrell said when her husband died, she did not know many of his fellow officers, but she reached out to them so that her children would be able to hear stories about their dad. She said even now, 29 years after the fact, people are still kindly sharing their memories.
“To this day I still hear stories about Eddie. I see people. They go, 'You're Mrs. Gorrell, aren't you?' They say, 'Well I knew your husband and this and this happened.' That brings joy to my heart that somebody still remembers him,” Gorrell said.
"Step forward and let the family know, you know, how they touched your life. That's the best thing that you can do for them is tell their stories," Gorrell said.
Gorrell said community tributes are another meaningful way to reach out to the families. She said she was happy when she learned there would be a vigil and walk of remembrance on the streets of downtown Wednesday night.
“I'm so glad that the police department and the community are stepping forward and memorializing these officers like with the candlelight vigil. That means more to the families than you will ever know. I wish we had those back when Eddie passed away,” Gorrell said.
Gorrell said Friday’s somber procession and memorial service for Officer Moreno will bring even more healing.
“It's showing that you respect the officer. You appreciate what they have sacrificed. These are things that the family is going to go through in the next 15-20 years. You know, it never stops. When another officer gets shot, it brings it all back,” Gorrell said.
Gorrell said nobody wants to join the awful club of police officer widows, but the support they give one another is critically important at times like this.
“They're all missed, all of them. Rocky. Wheeler. Garza. Perez. All of them are missed. Because when a shooting happens, in our minds, we're clicking them off. You know. You're joining our boys up there,” Gorrell said.
The 100 Club is actively raising money for the families of both officers shot last week, but Gorrell says over the long-term, it's important to continue to reach out and remember.
Gorrell spoke highly of the 100 Club.
“The 100 Club is the epitome of giving. They were there from the first day with my kids,” Gorrell said, adding that she knows the money is wisely invested. “Every last cent of it goes to the children and the families, and I know this because they were right there when my kids turned 18. We had the dinners and presented them each with checks,” Gorrell said.
Reflecting on almost three decades of living with loss, Gorrell said laughter comes easier now, but her family, like the Morenos, will live with the devastating impact of a senseless attack forever.
“The pain is still there. It will never go away. You know that. It's still there, but it's gotten a little easier,” Gorrell said.
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