Fallen San Benito police officer laid to rest as community mourns

dfwnewsa | October 26, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Fallen San Benito police officer laid to rest as community mourns

Lt. Milton Resendez

SAN BENITO — In one of the city’s biggest funeral ceremonies, hundreds of law enforcement officers Thursday joined Lt. Milton Resendez’s family to honor San Benito’s first police officer killed in the line of duty.

As a big American flag fluttered high over San Benito Memorial Park, family members placed red roses on Resendez’s casket more than a week after suspects shot him to death before a fierce hours-long pursuit ended in the arrests of two men facing capital murder charges.

Hundreds of law enforcement vehicles, with their lights flashing and sirens screeching, staged a historic half-hour procession from St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, where Resendez’s family held a funeral Mass, down Bowie Street, then along Interstate 69’s frontage road to Williams Road before entering San Jose Ranch Road toward the cemetery off Sam Houston Boulevard.

Over the ceremony, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter hovered, leading the way for three other choppers.

“Lt. Resendez courageously gave his life,” a woman’s voice echoed through loud speakers as family members shed tears, hugging Resendez’s wife Melissa under a long white canopy.

The shrill of bagpipes filled the cemetery as officers representing law enforcement agencies from across the state played before Resendez’s casket.

“It was an honor that our fallen hero was given so much dedication from all parts of the Valley, the state and the nation,” Mayor Rick Guerra said under a tent.

Standing near the family, City Commissioner Pete Galvan called it the biggest funeral he had ever seen in this town of 25,000 residents.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “I hope we never see it again.”

From across the Rio Grande Valley, law enforcement officers streamed into town.

At 9 a.m., a solemn caravan of Hidalgo County law enforcement vehicles stretching about a mile long traveled into Cameron County with blue and red lights flashing.

Near the Hidalgo and Cameron county lines, a large digital Bert Ogden sign displayed a photo of Resendez, paying tribute to the fallen officer during the morning commute.

In San Benito, police blocked Sam Houston Boulevard at Bowie Street as hundreds of cars lined the narrow roads leading to St. Benedict’s church.

As she walked down Bowie Street, former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, a candidate for the congressional seat she lost last year, described Resendez as a lawman known for helping fellow officers.

“He was loved everywhere,” Flores, a respiratory therapist from San Benito whose husband serves as a Border Patrol agent, said. “He helped everyone.”

Outside the church, hundreds of police officers from as far as New York City, Boston, Florida and Georgia stood in rows before lawmen carried Resendez’s casket toward the altar.

Inside, the church filled with area leaders and law enforcement officers as they joined Resendez’s family.

At the podium, the Rev. Mario Aviles, the Brownsville diocese’s auxiliary bishop, described the town as “a wounded community.”

“Many questions arise when we have to experience death — a lot of very human questions,” Aviles told the audience. “Why did it have to happen? Why did God allow this to happen? I’m sure some of you have these questions. That’s a very human way to face what is death.”

“But we are not just human,” he said. “We have a soul. We have hope and we have faith — and we have the only begotten son of God who gave his life for us.”

Standing next to Resendez’s portrait, Aviles described him as a hero who gave his life for his community.

Resendez, who didn’t have children, was godfather to 11 children, his obituary states.

“He was always generous with people through his work, through his personal life,” Aviles said. “He was able to give his time to be a godfather to all the children he had.”

“His life was one of service in many ways — life to the community, life to the people around him, and the sacrifice. He gave his life for the people he loved — for his community,” he said. “That’s what you do when you’re there protecting us. Milton died doing what he loved to do — protecting his hometown, and that will be taken into account by the Lord. It’s a difficult time but I am sure the Son was waiting for Milton.”

“The life of Milton Resendez should be an encouragement to all of us,” Aviles said. “This is not the end. This is the beginning. We continue to honor the life of Milton and all those who have given their lives for others. Lt. Resendez courageously gave his life.”

At about 10:58 p.m. Oct. 17 in San Benito, near Business 77 and Sam Houston Boulevard, a suspect amid an hours-long pursuit fired into Resendez’s truck, with one round piercing its door, entering the officer’s body from beneath his bulletproof vest, Police Chief Mario Perea told reporters during a news conference last week.

He was pronounced dead at Valley Baptist Medical Center.

Last week, a judge charged Rogelio Martinez, 18, of Brownsville, and Rodrigo Axel Espinosa Valdez, 23, a Mexican national, with charges including capital murder of a peace officer, ordering them held on bonds as high as $2 million.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

The post Fallen San Benito police officer laid to rest as community mourns appeared first on MyRGV.com.

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