The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and first responders from across the city all took part in escorting the daughter of a fallen BCSO deputy for her high school graduation.
Gloria Garza, who was brought to her graduation in a BCSO patrol unit, walked into the Alamodome Friday night with Sheriff Javier Salazar right by her side.
Garza said she didn’t know what to expect and that her mother wouldn’t tell her all week.
When she arrived, Garza said she was speechless.
“When I came, I was like, ‘Oh my God!’” she said. “I didn’t expect any of this. It’s just amazing.”
BCSO deputies and the San Antonio Police Department’s Pipes and Drums Band led Garza underneath a draped U.S. flag, held on by the ladders of the Bexar County District 7 Fire Rescue and the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department.
The ceremonial law enforcement escort was not only to celebrate Garza graduating with over 900 other fellow Southwest High School students, but also to honor her father and fallen BCSO deputy, Jesus “Jesse” Garza.
“It’s a member of the family whether we knew him or not. We all wear the same uniform. We all wear the same badge. We’re going to step and do what we need to do for each other,” Salazar said.
Nearly 15 years ago, Deputy Garza was killed in a one-vehicle car crash on Dec. 26, 2003, while responding to an emergency call.
Gloria, 18, was only 3 years old when her father died.
“My mom tells me stories. I don’t remember because I was little. I don’t remember too much, but I see pictures of me and him and things we would do,” she said. “My family tells me I’m just like him — the way I walk and talk. I know that he’d be proud of me for who I am.”
In his honor, the Sheriff’s Office named its new Mountie/horse “Jesse” after Gloria’s father.
Gloria got to meet "Jesse" before the start of the escort and the horse followed right behind her.
Salazar brought the BCSO Mounted Unit, a ceremonial unit, back this year, naming them specifically after fallen deputies.
“I know (Deputy) Jesse would be doing this himself absolutely if he could right now. Being that he can’t be with us, he’s got 1,500 brothers and sisters that are willing to do it for him,” Salazar said.
Before her escort, Salazar gifted Gloria a badge to wear around her neck, bearing her father’s badge number “1357.”
“Once you’re a member of this family, you’re always a member of this family,” he said.
For Gloria, she said her graduation will be one she will remember for a lifetime.
“It makes my heart warm, it really does. It makes me feel like I know I have someone,” she said. “I will always remember. Words cannot explain what this really means to me. It makes me happy. Thank you.”
Garza said she will attending Stephen F. Austin University to study biology and become a neonatal doctor.
Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.