CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Community support was unmatched for slain Kingsville Police Department officer Sherman Benys on Thursday.
Benys was returned to Kingsville where the streets were lined with family, friends, and strangers wanting to pay their respects. He didn't come alone; he was escorted by officers from various area police departments, fire departments, state troopers and more.
“This morning when I saw that news, I was literally just crushed,” said Rick Dunlap, a high-school classmate of Benys'.
Joe and Dawn Mireles were on East King Ave. as they watched the line of first responders bring Benys home. They both are retired principals who had Benys' children as students.
“This was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man," Dawn said. "Wonderful father, wonderful husband. Very much loved by the community, and it’s for this reason it is a great loss. And you can see all the people that are here. That is a representation of how we support not only the family, but also all of our KPD."
It's rare that an officer dies in the line of duty in Kingsville. The last officer to die on duty was in 1981, when they were hit by a drunk driver. The last officer shot and killed in the line of duty was in 1958. It was a similar domestic-disturbance call.
“It hurts the community," said Kingsville City Manager Mark McLaughlin. "Everybody knew him. And so, he was from here. Twenty years on the force — almost 20 years on the force. The community is very supportive of the family, but you can tell just from the social media feeds we’re seeing, the community’s hurting as well.”
“When I saw the news on Facebook (on Monday), a few minutes after it was posted, every hour on the hour I was literally checking for updates," said Dunlap. "I was forwarding those messages sharing it to other classmates.”
Police Chief Ricardo Torres said everyone at the department was very emotional on Thursday. He said Benys was a very friendly person and loved the outdoors.
“Over the last five, six, seven years — my photography, Sherman started noticing it," Dunlap said. "We became Facebook friends and we would talk about different birds, the seasons of birds and what bird he saw and different things like that."
No funeral arrangements have been announced as of Thursday afternoon. Torres said they would be posted to the department's Facebook page when they're solidified.