EDINBURG — Mourners from across the nation gathered Thursday to honor Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Moises Sanchez at a visitation held here at Legacy Chapels.
Sanchez, 49, died Aug. 24 after undergoing surgery related to gunshot wounds he received in the line of duty in April.
The Edinburg Fire Department flew a large American flag from a ladder truck during Thursday’s visitation. The flag fluttered above a parking lot filled with patrol units and police motorcycles from departments across the state.
Bouquets of flowers lined the walls of the chapel during the service, evidence of the many individuals and organizations that were moved by the trooper’s death. Two DPS troopers in dress uniform flanked Sanchez’s casket while community members and law enforcement officers mourned and paid their condolences to the bereaved.
Esther Richardson with Legacy Chapels estimated that by early afternoon over 300 individuals had visited.
“The community has exceeded expectations when it comes to supporting and caring for the Sanchez family,” Richardson said. “We’ve had tons of food, tons of people bringing gifts, sending condolences, just checking in. The entire police force has been here around the clock, so it’s been pretty amazing to see the community come together in a time of tragedy.”
Richardson said that law enforcement officers came from near and far to attend the visitation.
“We’ve had people visiting from in state and out of state,” she said. “We’ve had officers from Utah, Portland, New York, and that’s just from the morning.”
New Jersey State Trooper William Legg was one of those officers. Even though Legg had never met Sanchez, he said it was important for he and two fellow officers to make the trip to honor Sanchez’s sacrifice.
“We stand in solidarity with every agency across the nation, and it’s important for us to pay our respects whenever we are able to,” Legg said.
Legg says that Sanchez’s sacrifice is of particular significance to fellow law enforcement officers because of the common risks they share.
“It means a lot to all of us,” he said. “We put our lives on the line every day, there’s nothing routine about this job.”
Many of the attendees of Thursday’s visitation were veterans. America’s Last Patrol, an organization that memorializes veterans, attended the ceremony in recognition of Sanchez’s service in the Marine Corps.
“We’re going to do the last salute,” America’s Last Patrol Commander Richard Peña said. “One by one we’ll go up there and salute the casket.”
Peña says that as veterans he and the members of his organization can sympathize with the sacrifices Sanchez made during his life.
“We all went through it and we understand what he had done,” Peña said. “Every one of the members of my organization has either been in combat or served in the military.”
A public funeral service will be held for Sanchez at Bert Ogden Arena from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, after which Sanchez will be interred during a private ceremony at the Rio Grande Valley Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
Area residents should expect traffic delays and road closures stemming from Sanchez’s funeral procession. Investigator Sarah Rodriguez, public information officer for the Edinburg Police Department, says that the first portion of the procession will begin at Legacy Chapels and proceed northbound on Jackson to Trenton Road.
From Trenton, the procession will continue to Interstate 69C, and then turn south along the frontage road to Owassa. There, the procession will head east to Raul Longoria Road, and then back north, toward Alberta Road, ending at Bert Ogden Arena.
The first leg of the procession is expected to last from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Southbound Interstate 69C from the Trenton Road exit will be closed for the second portion of the procession at 2 p.m.
The procession will travel southbound through Pharr and then westward on Expressway 83. The procession will go through McAllen and end at the Rio Grande Valley Veterans Cemetery in Mission. The second portion of the procession is expected to end at 4 p.m.
Monitor staff writer Francisco E. Jimenez contributed to this report.