Update: Peace officers memorial service moved indoors due to expected storms

E-T staff report
National Police Week 2021

Local law enforcement officials have scheduled the annual Erath County Peace Officers Memorial service for 10 a.m. Wednesday and announced Tuesday afternoon that the service will be moved to the Paradigm Building, 555 W. Washington St., due to expected morning storms.

The public is welcome to join in celebrating, honoring and remembering with them during National Police Week, which is May 9-15.

In addition to honoring officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, the event will reportedly include the dedication of a memorial for Erath County Sheriff James Mastin, who was killed in the line of duty on June 25, 1877.

According to previous E-T reports, an article published in the Empire in 1877, shared details about Mastin’s murder.

“James Mastin, sheriff of this county, was shot and instantly killed by one Bone Wilson, alias Napoleon Wilson, about three and a half miles from Stephenville upon a charge of horse-stealing,” the Empire article states.

According to the Officer Down memorial website, "After searching the house the officers went back outside. The suspect suddenly stepped from behind a tree and opened fire on the officers, mortally wounding Sheriff Mastin."

"A party of 10 men, under the command of Sgt. Sparks, went after the horse thief and shot him after pointing his gun at Texas Rangers in what is now Coke County.

According to the E-T article, "Mastin hadn’t had a proper memorial stone for 140 years and it’s no longer known where he is exactly buried, other than in West End Cemetery."

"Mastin was survived by his wife and two young children."

According to previous E-T reports, the memorial was the idea of local Mason Kenneth Leatherwood, who addressed the Erath County commissioners about erecting the monument in February 2017. 

The funds for the memorial were donated by the Stephenville Masonic Lodge, the Major George B. Erath United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of the Confederate Veterans and other private donors.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website, National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) was declared in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. The calendar week in which May 15 falls is National Police Week.

"Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others," the site states.

So far in 2021, 23 Texas law enforcement officers have died. They include:

• Deputy Sheriff Alexander Gwosdz, Harris County Sheriff's Office

• Corrections Officer Jimmy Garcia, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Trooper Chad Walker, Texas Department of Public Safety

• Corrections Officer Luis Arturo Hernandez Sr., Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Corrections Officer III Tracey Adams, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Officer Carlos Mendoza, United States Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection - Office of Field Operations

• Parole Officer Troy K. Morin, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Parole Division

• Corrections Officer IV Tawiwo Obele, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Major Estaban "Stevie" Ramirez III, Bell County Sheriff's Office

• Deputy Constable Manuel Phillipe De La Rosa, Hays County Constable's Office - Precinct 2

• Police Officer Mitchell Penton, Dallas Police Department

• Corrections Officer IV Vicky James, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Investigator Eddie B. Hutchison, III, Walker County Criminal District Attorney's Office

• Detective Pedro Junior "Pete" Mejia, Pasadena Police Department

• Detention Officer Robert Perez, Harris County Sheriff's Office

• Special Agent Robert Allan Mayer Jr., United States Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection - Office of Professional Responsibility

• Lt. Treva Preston, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Corrections Officer IV Alfred Jimenez, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Constable Sherry Kay Langford, Henderson County Constable's Office - Precinct 1

• Lt. William Lyle Gardner, Denver City Police Department

• Sgt. Randall Sims, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division

• Two Concho County sheriff's deputies were fatally shot Monday night in Eden.

Of the 23, 19 died of COVID-19-related complications, three died from gunfire, and one from vehicular assault.