The veteran officer with the San Marcos, Texas, police department was shot and killed in the line of duty Monday afternoon while trying to serve an arrest warrant.
He and other officers were serving the warrant in a subdivision about 2:23 p.m. when a suspect opened fire on them “much like in an ambush type of situation,” said San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp at a news conference.
Copeland, 58, was wearing a bulletproof vest and was struck several times, Stapp said. He was rushed to Central Texas Medical Center. Copeland was pronounced dead at 3:50 p.m.
“I want to offer my thoughts, my condolences and my prayers for Officer Copeland’s family, his wife and his four children, and his family within the walls of this police department,” Stapp said.
Copeland is the first San Marcos police officer to be killed in the line of duty, Stapp said.
“Ken’s a hero. Today was his day off. He worked just about every day off to provide for his kids and because he knows that we’re shorthanded,” Stapp added. “His picture’s hanging in different parts of this police department because everybody here loved him.”
City Manager Bert Lumbreras said that Copeland’s colleagues were emotional after the shooting.
“I can tell you, I saw a lot of crying,” he said. “I saw peoples’ hearts ripped out.”
The suspect surrendered to officers and was transported to a hospital with a gunshot wound. He will be taken into custody when he’s medically stable, Stapp said. It was not immediately known whether the suspect shot himself or was shot by an officer on the scene, Stapp said.
Police are not identifying the suspect until he can be taken before a judge and formally charged, Stapp said.
Copeland joined the department in March 1998, according to a press release. Previously, he was a corrections officer in Huntsville, Texas, and San Jose, California. He had also been a deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and served with the Corpus Christi sector of the US Coast Guard, which included duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.