SMPD officer murdered

Kenneth Copeland

Veteran officer gunned down while he was serving warrant

A veteran San Marcos Police Officer was killed while serving a warrant Monday afternoon.

The city confirmed that Ken Copeland was shot while carrying out a warrant service before 2:30 p.m. at 117 Capistrano Drive in the Camino Real subdivision, located off CR 266 between Redwood Road and State Highway123.

At a press conference held at SMPD headquarters Monday evening, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp said that Copeland and other officers were serving a warrant for the suspect’s arrest for a violent crime. The suspect fired on the officers, and Copeland, who was wearing a protective vest, was hit several times. Stapp said he was taken to Central Texas Medical Center by police car but was declared dead at the hospital. In the meantime, the other officers set up a perimeter and waited for SWAT to arrive.

Initial scanner traffic indicated Copeland had been shot possibly in the upper chest, and it was later speculated that he had been shot with a handgun. The suspect initially refused to leave his residence, where it was speculated he had as many as 20 weapons in the house, some equipped with scopes. Stapp said during the press conference that he could not comment on whether the suspect had that many weapons, or on the nature of the warrant or whether the suspect had a criminal record.

As law enforcement, including San Marcos Police, Hays County deputies, state troopers, EMS and the San Marcos and Buda fire department arrived on scene, nearby homes were evacuated and officers maintained a perimeter while waiting for a SWAT team to arrive. K9 units were on the scene as well, and a DPS helicopter circled above the normally quiet neighborhood.

Officers from multiple jurisdictions flooded the Camino Real neighborhood Monday afternoon after a San Marcos Police Officer was fatally shot while serving a warrant. The suspect later surrendered to a SWAT team and was taken, injured, to an Austin hospital for treatment. DAILY RECORD PHOTOS BY COLTON ASHABRANNER

The San Marcos CISD was notified at 3:10 p.m. not to send buses into the area to pick up students at Bowie Elementary, located just down Hwy. 123 from the neighborhood. SMCISD spokesman Andrew Fernandez said that Bowie and San Marcos High School were put on lockdown during the incident and that campuses were keeping students who lived in the neighborhood at their schools and notifying parents about the situation.

Stapp said police were able to get the suspect to give himself up.

“He did later come out and surrender peacefully,” Stapp said.

The suspect, whom police have not yet identified, was taken to Seton Medical Center Hays, where he is being treated for a gunshot wound to the side. During a press conference held Monday evening, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp said it was not clear whether the suspect shot himself or was shot by an officer.

Stapp described Copeland as “a hero.”

“It was his day off,” he said. “He worked just about every day off,” the chief said, to provide for his family and to help out when the police department was short-handed.

Stapp said Copeland had served with the department since March 1998. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

“No city is prepared for this,” San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides said during the press conference, “and we are all mourning together.”

Thomaides called the city a family business and said that Copeland is a member of that family.

“We need to come together now more than ever,” he said, asking for residents to support the men and women in local law enforcement.

“This is their daily reality,” he said. “I think the best way I’ve heard this described is it rips your heart out, and that’s where we are now.”

City Manager Bert Lumbreras said he had noticed how much Copeland’s death affected the other police officers.

“I can tell you I saw a lot of crying,” he said.

When a tragedy like this occurs, Lumbreras said, “There’s no words that can be expressed. There’s nothing we can say.”

Lumbreras echoed Thomaides’ call for unity and for support for law enforcement. “They’re simply trying to protect us from harm,” he said. “That’s what Officer Copeland was doing today.”

It was the first time a San Marcos officer has been killed in the line of duty, and the first time in nearly two decades that a law enforcement officer had been killed while on duty in Hays County. DPS Trooper Randall Vetter was shot and killed on Aug. 3, 2000 while attempting a traffic stop.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666