It was Joaquin Espericueta’s first middle-school football game and his first game since his father was killed.

His father, Jose “Speedy” Espericueta, a corporal with the Mission, Tex., police department, was fatally shot responding to a call in June — the department’s first officer killed in the line of duty in 40 years.

Everyone who knew Espericueta knew how much he bonded with his son over football and how excited he was for his son’s football debut on the Cathey Middle School team in McAllen, Tex.

So on Saturday, about 50 police officers from across South Texas filled the stands at Joaquin’s football game to let him know he had the support of not only the Mission Police Department but also the entire police community in the Rio Grande Valley.

“It was important for us as a law enforcement family to support Joaquin on his special day of his first football game,” Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez said. “This was another first in his life, and we wanted to be there."

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Joaquin was named honorary captain for the day and was happy that his team, the Cobras, won big, Dominguez said.

Officers from the Mission department and other nearby police agencies also showed up at Joaquin’s first day of seventh grade in August and brought him a basket of goodies and football gear on his 13th birthday several weeks ago, Dominguez said.

“You could see the excitement on his face,” Dominguez said. “Not only him, but his entire family was appreciative.”

Espericueta, 44, is also survived by his wife, Roberta “Bobbie” Espericueta, and their daughter, Brianna, 20, a college student.

Espericueta was killed responding to a call of a man with a gun. Shortly after arriving at the scene, Espericueta was shot, and he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The shooter was killed by gunfire from responding officers.

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Dominguez said his department will continue to support Joaquin and his family, and said some buddies of Espericueta’s have planned a cookout on what would have been his 45th birthday next month.

“It was a great tragedy for our officers,” Dominguez said. “We’re going to be there for family. It’s a healing process for all of us.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Espericueta was pronounced dead at a local hospital after the shooting.

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