SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Jeep clubs from San Marcos, New Braunfels and San Antonio gathered in San Marcos Sunday to honor the life of slain San Marcos Police Department Officer Ken Copeland. Copeland was killed while serving a warrant in San Marcos on Dec. 4.
He was the first San Marcos police officer killed in the line of duty, and he had worked in the department for 19 years.
More than 100 jeeps attended Sunday’s caravan, all driving together. A wide range of drivers were represented. They came from Texas cities including Pleasanton, Luling, Buda and Austin.
They drove to the San Marcos Police headquarters where they met around a dozen SMPD employees and their families for a candlelight vigil. The group prayed together and presented SMPD with a plaque the department accepted on behalf of Copeland’s family.
SMPD officers expressed their gratitude to the jeep clubs and shared a few memories about Copeland.
“I came out here today to help support the police officer who was shot — Officer Copeland. [Police officers] are who protect us on a day-to-day basis, so I feel it’s very important to show our respect for him,” said Amanda Thomas, a San Marcos resident who attended.
Thomas had never met Copeland, but was deeply saddened by his death. She said it was difficult to answer her two young daughters’ questions about why someone would kill a police officer.
A member of the Hays County Jeep Club, Mike Marshall, told KXAN that the Jeep communities and local law enforcement in Central Texas are closely connected. In fact, several SMPD officers belong to local Jeep clubs.
“The Jeep community is so full of law enforcement, first responders, military,” Marshall said. “We feel it’s our duty to come together to honor a fallen officer.”
Stuart Mettz, 51, was arrested for Copeland’s murder. According to an affidavit, when Copeland was serving a warrant to Mettz, Mettz opened the door and fatally shot Copeland in the chest.
Copeland will be laid to rest Dec. 13. Visitation will be Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Thomason Funeral Home in San Marcos at 2001 Old Ranch Road 12.
The next day, funeral services begin at 11 a.m. at the Community Bible Church at 2477 North Loop 1604 East in San Antonio.
Various police departments have volunteered to help cover calls or join the escort during Copeland’s memorial service.