AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around Texas and as far away as Chicago have gathered for a memorial service for an Austin police officer who was fatally shot last week in the line of duty.
The casket of 40-year-old Senior Officer Jaime Padron Church, was draped in an American flag and flanked by photographs of the officer with his family. More than 5,000 people attended, most of them uniformed officers.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo called Padron a hero and a prince. He added that the entire department was mourning the loss.
A procession will then take Patron to his native San Angelo for burial.
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Hundreds of enforcement officers from around Texas and as far away as Chicago gathered Wednesday for a memorial service for an Austin police officer who was fatally shot last week in the line of duty.
The casket of 40-year-old Senior Officer Jaime Padron, at Austin's Shoreline Church, was draped in an American flag and flanked by photographs of the officer with his family. One shows him being kissed on both cheeks by his daughters, ages 10 and 6. Many officers stood in line to pay their respects at the casket.
Waco, Dallas and Fort Worth police departments were represented at the service that was expected to draw more than 1,000 officers. A procession will then take Patron to his native San Angelo for burial.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Padron's brother Johnny are expected to give eulogies inside the church. The service will then move outside, where Acevedo will present an American flag to Padron's daughters and the officer will be honored with a drum and pipe corps and a lone trumpeter playing taps.
There will be a three-rifle salute in Padron's honor, and state and local law enforcement will also stage a flyover.
Padron was shot April 6 in a Walmart after responding to a call around 2:30 a.m. about a man causing a disturbance. Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Montgomery Daniel has been charged with capital murder in Padron's killing and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Authorities say Daniel was potentially intoxicated and tried to run. Padron chased him before the two fell to the ground, then the suspect produced a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer. Padron was hit twice — once in his protective vest and a second time in the neck — and died at the scene.
He was the first officer shot and killed in the line of duty in Austin since 1978.
A former Marine, Padron served in Operation Desert Storm. He joined the San Angelo Police Department in 1995, serving as a patrol officer and a gang and narcotics investigator before moving to Austin. He worked for the Austin airport police, then joined the city's police force more than three years ago.
Daniel's mother, Mary O'Dell, has said her son is a talented software engineer who has been struggling with depression for months after a bitter breakup with his longtime girlfriend. O'Dell said her son had no memory of the shooting, and that he had taken the prescription anti-anxiety drug Xanax just hours earlier.
She expressed sympathy for Padron's family, saying she has "nothing but a deep felt pain" over his death.