McALLEN — Law enforcement from most of the cities in Hidalgo County gathered here at McAllen Medical Saturday evening to pay their respects to officers Edelmiro Garza and Ismael Chavez, who were shot and killed in the line of duty earlier that day.
Over 50 police cars made up a procession escorting the bodies of the officers, who were transported to Hidalgo County pathology for autopsy.
Officers from McAllen, Edinburg, Donna, Peñitas, Weslaco, Alton, Mission, Pharr, Hidalgo, Palmhurst, La Joya, San Juan, Alamo and Mercedes took part in the procession, along with county constables and sheriff’s deputies.
“It’s a brotherhood; it’s law enforcement; peace officers,” Edinburg Police Chief Cesar Torres, who took part in the procession, said. “It’s very important that we’re united, we want to support McAllen PD and other agencies. It’s very important, we’re in the same profession.”
The patrol cars had lined up behind a phalanx of seven officers astride motorcycles from McAllen police around by 8 p.m.
Before the procession began, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez walked between the motorcycles, clasping hands with officers.
Across the parking lot, first responders attached a large American flag to the ladder of a McAllen Fire Department truck, unfurled it and hoisted it into the air.
A crowd of people, many of them law enforcement, gathered around the doors of the hospital, some consoling and embracing each other.
Officers saluted as the bodies were brought out.
The escort began a little after 8 p.m., patrol cars turning onto the road with lights flashing. Somewhere in the distance someone was playing a recording of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.
The procession drove down the street and turned onto the expressway, passing underneath the fluttering flag flying from the ladder truck.
Medical staff from the hospital and members of the public saw the procession off, among them McAllen Mayor Jim Darling.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” he said. “The city’s behind them and we appreciate their bravery, and we appreciate every day what our officers do on the street for us, and this is one of the terrible, terrible consequences of law enforcement.”
Darling said the families of Chavez and Garza have the city’s full support.
“I can’t say enough about our sympathy for the family,” he said.