Loved ones say goodbye to Dallas Officer Rogelio Santander
DALLAS - Police officers from across the country paid their respects to a slain Dallas officer on Tuesday.
Officer Rogelio Santander was shot and killed by a shoplifting suspect last week at a northeast Dallas Home Depot. His partner, Officer Crystal Almeida, and Home Depot employee, Scott Painter, were also critically injured.
Pictures of a smiling Santander played across a giant video screen as hundreds of well-wishers gathered at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall on Tuesday morning to say goodbye to the fallen officer.
Presiding over the funeral service was Catholic Diocese of Dallas Bishop Edward Burns, who greeted Santander's family at the door. His casket was then escorted to the stage.
Burns told friends, family members and officers from as far away as New York City and California a story about how Santander inspired his mother to get a better job and how he had a tight relationship with his father and brother.
He was remembered as a hard-working, dedicated and determined officer who was always smiling. He was also described as someone who loved his family, his dogs and playing soccer.
Family friend Oscar Romero said Santander was determined to achieve success and he always did.
“Because I have great respect for him, for everything he did. He had his mind set of goals and he did them. He achieved them. He had more goals. I know his life was cut short, a great tragedy. But he was still a great young man,” Romero said.
Santander's soccer coach says he loved his family and being a police officer.
“He was hoping to make SWAT getting big, getting guns, everything,” Oscar Romero said.
Some of the most touching memories came from Santander's girlfriend, Jennifer Rivera, whom he met at a subway shop in February 2016.
“You did not notice, but when I gave you that slip to sign. I kept looking at that bright and amazing smile you had on your face,” Rivera said.
Rivera said it was basically love at first sight.
“You smiled nervously and popped the question, ‘Can I give you my number?’ I said, ‘Sure, thank you.’ You gave it to me on a Subway napkin which I still keep to this day,” Rivera said.
Rivera said Santander pushed her to be her best -- helping her get her driver's license and get into community college. Santander also took care of her two-year-old daughter - Scarlett.
“Rogelio, I know you’re listening I couldn't have done it without you,” Rivera said.
Family members said Santander had dreams of being a police officer since he was a little boy. He was only on the force three years before he was killed in the line of duty.
His funeral was followed by a burial service at Restland Cemetery in Dallas.
Chief Hall did attend the service, but chose not to speak.
Almeida and Painter remain in critical condition. The suspect, 29-year-old Armando Juarez, is charged with capital murder for the shooting.