Eight days after Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Damon Allen was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Thanksgiving, loved ones and law enforcement from across the country gathered to remember his life.
The shooting suspect was later caught and faces a murder charge. Allen, 41, served 15 years with DPS prior to his death, the agency said.
The football stadium at Mexia High School where Allen played football in the early 1990s was filled to the brim with family, community members and hundreds of law enforcement officers who came from towns nationwide to honor the fallen public servant.
“[This is] probably one of the best ways for us as a law enforcement community to show support to the family,” Carrolton Police Sergeant Brian Box said. Box is a graduate of Mexia H.S., and while he did not know Allen personally, he said he knew Allen’s older brother.
“Taking time out of my day, coming down here, it’s the right thing to do,” Box said.
Some Texas first responders said it was important for them to attend the memorial on Friday, to show Allen’s family respect.
“For me the biggest one is whenever I see Damon’s family, especially his kids, recognizing that their dad has given the ultimate sacrifice for others,” Longview Police Sergeant Shane McCarter.
Others knew Allen personally, like Texas Highway Patrol Captain Ricky White, out of Amarillo, who was stationed with Allen in Waco at one point.
“It’s very emotional because I do know him well,” White said after the memorial, adding that Allen always “did his job well.”
Pastor Bryan Hallmark, a friend of the Allens, said in a speech during the memorial that Allen was “one of a kind.”
He was “one of the finest” that DPS had to offer, Hallmark said, explaining that Allen loved his job and was proud to serve his community.
Mexia Police Chief Rex Evans read from a letter that he wrote the day after Allen’s death. In it, he suggested that the “thin blue line,” the brotherhood and sisterhood that lives within members of law enforcement, extends beyond Earth.
“While his life may have ended, his life story remains alive,” Evans said.
Hallmark added to that sentiment by saying that Allen may have died in his body on the interstate last week, “his spirit never died.”
Lubbock Police Officer Tino Blanco, a member of LPD’s Honor Guard, said afterward that it was important to attend so “we can all come together… from all different walks of life.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attended the ceremony, as did Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and a handful of state lawmakers.
“Today we celebrated & honored the life of the Texas DPS trooper who was killed on Thanksgiving,” Abbott tweeted. “Now we go to work to prevent killers like his from being out on our streets.”
Former classmate Kristi Beard summed up Allen in a few words, saying he always had a smile on his face, and lived with a “carefree attitude.”
Allen is survived by his wife, four children, his parents, as well as siblings and extended family.