RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The wife of an off-duty police officer killed in a shooting in North Carolina recalled Saturday how she tried to save him after he was shot.
“I’m glad you stayed with me long enough that I could kiss your skin while it was still warm,” Jasmin Torres said at the memorial service for 29-year-old Gabriel Torres. “While I could still feel the pulse of your heart.”
Torres, a Raleigh police officer and former US Marine, was inside his personal vehicle and about to leave for work when authorities said he was shot by a 15-year-old boy wearing clothes in camouflage and shooting with a shotgun.
Police said the teenager killed five people, including his older brother, during the October 13 rampage in the Hedingham neighborhood and along a nearby walking path. As authorities continue to search for a motive, the North Carolina capitol was still reeling days later – and paying tribute to those who had died.
Speaking at Cross Assembly Church in Raleigh, Jasmin Torres recalled flashes of her husband’s final moments.
“Finding yourself hurt with your life slipping away is too much pain to handle,” she said.
She added: “I gave it my all to try to save you. I’m sorry if I scared you. I didn’t know I could scream that loud.
Jasmin Torres recalled the times she and her husband had spent apart from each other over the years, including during his deployments as a Marine and then on night shifts as a police officer.
“I’m so, so, so proud of you,” his wife said. “You were so dedicated to your work. I had to beg you to use your free time. Your night shifts were difficult – it created distance – but we got through it.
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said Torres often checked on colleagues he trained with at the police academy.
“Always making sure they and their families were okay,” the chef said. “I’m told he always had something extra on hand, whether it was a pair of socks, a t-shirt, an extra flashlight or a few extra dollars to share if someone was in need. “
The highlight of Torres’ day, Patterson said, was cooking dinner for Jasmin and their daughter Layla before work.
“He left an example for all of us of what the world needs most – not for those who shun the challenges of the profession and the inherent dangers,” the chef said. “But those who run protect themselves against the forces that hunt and hate; those who divide and destroy.
Shortly after US Marines folded the US flag that was draped over Torres’ coffin, friends and family of another gunshot victim, Susan Karnatz, filled the sanctuary of the North Raleigh Presbyterian Church , reported The News & Observer.
The windows in the church’s ceiling offered a glimpse of the natural world that Karnatz loved and whose beauty led her to believe in God during her teenage years, Pastor Lisa Hebacker said during the service.
Karnatz, 49, was killed while running on the trail. Passionate about running, she had completed the Boston Marathon four times. She had taken time off from her early career as a school psychologist to homeschool her three boys, The News & Observer reported.
“And now I wonder what his life could teach us, even through his death,” Hebacker said. “I’m sure – sure – that the circumstances surrounding Sue’s death teach us that the world still has so much to learn about love.”
A memorial is also expected in the coming days for Mary Marshall, 34, a Navy veteran who was walking her dog when she was killed. She had planned to get married later this month.
Another victim was Nicole Connors, shot while talking to a neighbor on her porch. She was the matriarch of her extended family and her funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Dayton, Ohio, according to the Dayton Daily News.
A memorial was held Thursday for 16-year-old James Thompson, the older brother of the 15-year-old who police say carried out the shooting. A basketball jersey had been placed on James Thompson’s casket.
He was “just getting to that age where the whole world was opening up to him,” Jeff Roberts, senior pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, said during the service.
The shooting suspect has been identified by his parents as Austin Thompson. Police said they believe he fired at officers and that several officers returned fire before his arrest. He remains in critical condition, according to a police report released Thursday.
The parents released a statement saying they are “overwhelmed with grief” and saw no warning signs that “Austin was capable of doing something like this.”
His mother said on Wednesday he had been moved to a pediatric intensive care unit. The main local prosecutor said she would seek to charge the youngster as an adult.