Slain Chambers Co. deputy remembered

July 17, 2009 3:11:27 PM PDT
A Chambers County deputy was laid to rest Friday. Friends, family and colleagues of Shane Detwiler gathered at a church in Mont Belvieu to say goodbye.Deputy Detwiler was remembered both by those who knew him, and those who were touched by his sacrifice.

Trisha Detwiler, the deputy's wife, spoke publicly for the first time to a crowd of about 700 to 1,000, with their four-year-old son at her side and hundreds of law enforcement officers before her.

"What drew me to Shane was his zeal for life, especially his sense of humor and personal integrity," said Trisha Detwiler. "Our courtship and I mean this in every sense of the word was a whirlwind. Shane displayed chivalry in so many ways. Every time he came to call, he had a rose for me." [Watch full video from Trisha Detwiler]

The slain deputy's wife said that she knows she has comfort because her husband loves the Lord and that she knows that he is where he should be right now. She also noted that he died doing what loved doing.

"Even before he began his life's journey, before he had done all the wonderful things he became, I knew he was the best person I would ever know," said Trisha.

Deputy Detwiler and his wife had been married for about 13 years. She was in attendance with two of their three young children. She took her seat in front of her husband's casket. It was a moment her friends say she always feared, but she never thought would happen just two months into his new career as a Chambers County deputy.

His friends also say he wanted to be a sheriff's deputy in Chambers County. He finished college in about two years and was in the military. He was a decorated Iraqi war veteran and for six years, he worked as a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife, which is where those who knew him best say he blossomed into the person he became.

"He had a spark in his eyes that is what I recognized as a 'can do man'," said Pete Flores with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "Someone we could depend on. I personally will cherish and honor his memory. We, the game wardens of Texas, will always remember him and we will always be there for his family. We will always be inspired by the love for his family, by his commitment for his nation." [Watch more video from Pete Flores]

Several people spoke at the services, including his captain and his chief.

After the service, the funeral procession took 30 minutes to file into the cemetery as it passed through the streets of Baytown. Flanked by motorcycles, the hearse carrying Deputy Detwiler rolled slowly by.

Many people gathered to watch. Vietnam veteran Nick Chuvej struggled to hold back tears.

"So tragic. It's nonsense. It never should have happened," Chuvej said.

Chuvej didn't know the deputy, but like more than a hundred people who lined the road in Baytown to watch the funeral procession, he feels like he did.

"He doesn't deserve what he got. But he deserves for us to honor him," said Chuvej.

Kathy Harrison waited two hours to show her support for the family. As a teenager, she lost her stepfather, a Baytown firefighter, in the line of duty and she remembers.

"It was one of the worst times," said Harrison.

For many, the family's loss still remains unimaginable.

"When you're on the outside looking in trying to imagine this, your emotions just run wild. Yea, grown men aren't supposed to cry, but it happens," said Charles Land.

Monday's tragedy

Deputy Detwiler was shot and killed Monday by Gilbert Ortez who later killed himself. It happened when Deputy Detwiler was called out to Ortez's home after reports of shots fired at a water company employee. He was killed by two gunshot wounds to the head, but he was hit with even more gunfire.

An all-day standoff followed, ending when deputies made entry into the home and found Ortez dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ortez, a former police officer, had a criminal history including two convictions for unlawfully carrying a weapon. Investigators later found weapons and more than 100 explosives in Ortez's home.

Ortez's girlfriend, Pamela Leggett, is in the Chambers County Jail, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. But the DA says charges may be upgraded, since Leggett allegedly started the deadly chain of events by shooting at a meter reader.

Deputy Detwiler was a father of three -- the oldest four years and the youngest just eight months old. His wife of 13 years is a school teacher. When he responded to the scene Monday morning, he was relatively new to the Chambers County Sheriff's Office. The 31-year-old had been employed there just two months. Before that, he had worked six years at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Helping out

"The 100 Club of Houston" will help Deputy Shane Detwiler's family cover his funeral expenses. If you'd like to make a donation, visit the 100 Club of Houston website to help the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

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