Law enforcement officers from around the country helped friends and loved ones of Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander fill Rockwall's Lake Pointe Church Tuesday to say goodbye to the slain officer.
Santander was fatally shot while questioning a shoplifting suspect at a Dallas-area Home Depot April 24. The shooting also gravely wounded Santander’s partner Officer Crystal Almeida and Home Depot Loss Prevention employee Scott Painter, both of whom are recovering.
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The accused gunman, Armando Luis Juarez, is being held in the Dallas County Jail on more than $4 million bond, accused of capital murder and assault of a peace officer.
Santander was a rookie when the deadly ambush on police killed four Dallas Police officers and a DART officer in 2016. Oscar Romero was Santander's former soccer coach. He told mourners Santander often waved off suggestions he apply for work at a different department.
“That’s where I started, that’s where I want to stay,” recalled Romero.
“He showed us it doesn’t matter what part of town you lived in or who you are. If you can set your mind to it, with no excuses, you’re going to achieve it,” said Romero. “He did it and that’s why we loved him because he did it.”
Santander’s girlfriend, Jennifer Rivera, spoke at the service. She described meeting Santander while she worked at a Subway sandwich shop. Rivera said she was a young mother who didn’t even have a drivers license. Rivera said Santander inspired her to set and work towards goals, including returning to school.
“I ended up moving into a better job,” said Rivera. “Rogelio, I know you’re listening to me. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Fellow officers described Santander as an eager officer, quick to share a smile with anyone.
“Rogelio did not say much, but he smiled at everyone,” recalled Officer Courtney Collins. She also described the three year veteran officer as calm, confident and competitive.
“He pushed all his friends and himself to be the best.”
The bishop of Dallas' Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Edward Burns, told mourners that Santander was a man of character and discipline who put his family first.
Burns said that as a boy, Santander wanted to fight crime like Batman and that he "wanted to save a city."
On social media Tuesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings posted about a fundraiser for officers Santander and Almeida.
Snuffer's Restaurant & Bar is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday. A portion of the sales will go to the Blue Guardian Foundation to benefit the officers' families. The fundraiser will take place from open to close at these locations:
- Snuffer's Restaurant & Bar (3526 Greenville Ave.) until 11 p.m.
- Snuffer's Restaurant & Bar (8411 Preston Rd.) until 9 p.m.