Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander, shot and killed in an incident Tuesday at a Home Depot store, is being remembered by those who knew him as a man who was funny, kind and committed to helping others.
At Skyline High School in Dallas, Santander’s former soccer coach remembers a kid who never gave anything less than his all.
“He wasn’t the 'A-plus' student but he fought for everything that he got and he wasn’t afraid to go out and try and be a big part of life,” said Danny Barentine.
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Santander graduated from Skyline in 2009 after playing three years on the soccer team. One of his teammates and classmates was Francisco Chavez, who now also teachers and coaches at Skyline.
“It’s hard to put it into words because you never think it will happen to someone you know,” said Chavez. “He was a guy that cared about his friends, his family, very responsible guy,” he said.
Outside the Dallas Police Department’s Northeast substation, where Santander has worked the last three years, a squad now sits on the grass gathering flowers and mementos from neighbors and fellow police officers.
"I would love to see that car decked out with flowers, balloons, cards," said Alyson Esch of DPA Spouses Behind the Badge. "Just a huge show of support for family and friends to know that he was loved, because I know that he was."
On Wednesday, one of Santander’s fellow officers dropped off flowers, asking not to give his name but telling NBC DFW that “everybody loved him.”
"They're like children as far as I'm concerned," said police dispatcher Caroline Fofana, who came to drop off flowers. "That could be my child."
The Dallas Police Department also confirmed on Tuesday that Santander and his partner Crystal Almeida were in the same class at the academy. A Dallas Police Officer telling NBC DFW that Almeida and Santander “clicked” and enjoyed working together.
Police Chief Renee Hall said Almeida and store employee Scott Painter, who also were shot in the Tuesday afternoon incident at a Home Depot store, are both in critical condition, but are recovering.
A Spanish Mass at the Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Dallas will honor Santander.
A statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas says Santander will be honored at the Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral-Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The statement says a photo of the officer will be surrounded by candles "to represent the light the fallen officer brought to the community through his service."
The cathedral bells would toll 27 times to mark each year of the slain officer's life. Prayers also were to be offered for Almeida and Painter.
A public candlelight vigil is planned for Thursday evening at the DPD Northeast Substation. The doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the candlelight vigil begins at 7:30 p.m.