MISSION, Texas – For Cpl. Jose “Speedy” Espericueta, watching his son playing football meant the world.
His coworkers say that watching 13-year-old Joaquin become a starter on his school’s team was what the Texas police officer was looking forward to the most. That was, until his life was cut short by an armed suspect who was fleeing the scene of a crime back in June.
But on Saturday, members of law enforcement from across the state gathered to watch Joaquin start in his first football game, fulfilling a promise they’d made to his father.
“The one thing he couldn’t stop talking about was Joaquin starting football this year,” said Officer Javier Lara. “We made a promise to the family that we’re gonna be there for special events,” Lara said. “Being the first football game, we gathered agencies from across the valley to let him know that we’re still there, even though his dad’s not.”
Looking into the crowd at Joaquin’s game on Saturday revealed a sea of blue and green uniformed officers all there to support their fallen brother’s family.
Twitter posts showed that even members of Border Patrol were in attendance, along with the Mission Police Department and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, representing a vast makeup of South Texas authorities.
#RGV Sector #BorderPatrol agents joined local police officers today to support the son of fallen hero, Cpl. Joey “Speedy” Espericueta. A sea of law enforcement watched Joaquin who was named honorary captain for his first 7th grade football game! #BackTheBlue #HonorFirst pic.twitter.com/SaMWFbbIr8
— CBP RGV (@CBPRGV) September 22, 2019
Joaquin was named an honorary captain for the game, smiling as the massive audience of emergency responders cheered him on.
Mission 👮🏻 officers vowed to take care of Cpl. Espericueta's family. They kept that promise as they showed up for Joaquin's 1st football 🏈 game. Speedy's son was named honorary capt. So many officers & city leaders were there to support! #ThisIsForSpeedy 💙 pic.twitter.com/Mg6fPzp9kY
— City of Mission, TX (@CityOfMissionTX) September 21, 2019
The family has been surrounded by an incredible amount of support from members of the law enforcement community since Espericueta was killed in June. Dozens of uniformed officers helped welcome Joaquin back to his first day of 7th grade and another team of cops helped his daughter relocate to San Antonio for school.
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Officer Lara was the original coordinator of getting officers to attend Joaquin’s first football game. He said that “nobody hesitated on showing up.”
“Everybody was willing to go ahead and come out,” Lara said in an interview with CNN. “Just to support him, just to let him know that we’re going to be there for the rest of his life.”
A true blessing for the Sheriff’s Office to have attended Corporal Jose “Speedy” Espericueta’s son’s first football game 2019. An amazing experience to see the law enforcement community continue coming together to show, he will never be forgotten! #myHCSO pic.twitter.com/g9qcozQEYs
— Hidalgo County SO (@HidalgoCountySO) September 21, 2019
Joaquin played a solid game as center for his team, Lara said, helping lead them to victory in their season opener.
“He was really excited. He was real thankful about us being here for him,” Lara said. “He has a huge heart. He’s going to be a good young man.”
Espericueta was responding to a call for assistance from another officer on June 20 in Mission, Texas when he was viciously gunned down by an armed suspect who was fleeing the scene of a crime. According to reports, he was attempting to make contact with a man who allegedly had shot at his mother. When he went to confront him, the son ran, then turned and shot at Espericueta.
“Our officers, as well as everyone in the line of duty, work in an incredibly difficult environment,” Police Chief Robert Dominguez said during a press conference following the tragic events that led to Espericueta’s death. “At times, as we see today, this environment can be extremely dangerous.”
He had recently received a merit award after helping a woman escape from her home that was engulfed in flames. He left behind a wife, his son and his daughter.
He was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in the Texas department in over 40 years. The last officer killed on that force was in 1978.
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