Hundreds attended a vigil Sunday night at the Mesquite Police Department to honor Police Officer Richard Houston, 46, who was killed in the line of duty Friday.
Several of Houston's family members attended the service outside the department, where mourners prayed together, lit candles and listened to a message.
"Tonight is a night where we can grieve. But we do not grieve alone because we can be united," Pastor Nick Edwards, of Community Life Church, said.
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Earlier in the day Sunday, Mesquite residents visited the memorial to pay their respects.
Jennifer Mann came to the growing memorial along with Rita Martinez. She works in Mesquite ISD and said they both know officers in the department through the school resource officer program.
“We were coming home from church and we thought, ‘Let’s go say some extra prayers today because I think his family could really use it,’” Mann said.
Many are leaning on those extra prayers in Mesquite on Sunday.
The memorial outside of the Mesquite Police Department for Houston seemed to draw more people, like Rhonda Dean.
“Something in me just said, 'I got to go over there,'” Dean said.
Dean was like most who showed up at 777 N. Galloway Avenue on Sunday. It was a mix of quiet reflection, taking photos of a Mesquite police vehicle adorned with balloons, fresh flowers, and a large-framed photo of Houston.
They remembered a public servant many never met but still felt a strong connection to.
“It was right around the corner from me – you know – it hit home,” Dean said.
Houston was shot multiple times at about 1:40 p.m. on Dec. 3 while responding to a disturbance between two women outside an Albertson's grocery store on the 1500 block of Belt Line Road.
At some point a man got out a gun, leading to a shootout with the officer, Mesquite police Chief David Gill said. "This is a senseless act of violence that ripped a loving father from his family."
Houston, who was married with three children, was transported to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and was later pronounced dead. A special donation webpage has been established to assist the Houston family with expenses.
“It’s just really hard to comprehend all of that,” Martinez said.
Mesquite police said more investigative details are expected to be released early this week but for Sunday – its focus was on honoring their fallen officer.
Funeral arrangements for Houston will be open to the public on Thursday at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall from noon to 2 p.m. The family has requested a private graveside ceremony for the immediate family and the Mesquite Police Department family.