MESQUITE, Texas – A prayer vigil was held Sunday evening at the Mesquite Police Department for the officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty Friday afternoon.
Officer Richard Houston was a 21-year veteran with the department. He was married and a father to three children.
Houston was identified Saturday as the officer who was fatally shot outside a Mesquite grocery store after responding to a disturbance call.
Police have not clarified what the disturbance was, but tell FOX 4 there was an “exchange of gunfire” between Houston and the suspect.
The suspect was shot, but it’s unclear if one of the officer’s bullets hit him or if he shot himself. He’s critical but stable at a local hospital. His name has not been released.
The Mesquite community gathered to recognize Houston. Some at the vigil didn’t know him, but for the ones who did, he made an impact.
“He used to keep me out of a lot of trouble. I used to chill with him on my lunch breaks at school,” 19-year-old Shakyria Taverecalled.
The term community policing is heard a lot, but Tave said Houston encouraged her to do well at school and helped crack down on crime in her neighborhood. It’s something her mother will never forget.
“We felt more comfortable. It was more safe. We felt like this was home,” Hollie Tave said.
He helped people feel safe at home.
“And he was just like a son to us. Always at our house and our son with him,” Patti Murphree said.
Patti and Rickey Murphree said they’ll never forget him growing up at their home with their son.
“They grew up together and they both wanted to be police officers, which they both did,” Pattie said.
Houston’s father was a Mesquite police officer.
“He wanted to be following his father’s footsteps,” Rickey said.
Houston was a husband and father, and people said that family role carried over to his policing.
“With officer Houston, it was more like a friend-to-friend, father figure,” Hollie said.
“Love is a strong word,” Shakyria said. “I loved him. No doubt about it.”
The prayer vigil at police headquarters came after hundreds of people, including neighbors, church members, and more, circled his family’s home to remember him Saturday.
“It hurts,” neighbor Ann Jarolimek said.
“It’s got to be tough it’s the holidays. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now,” neighbor Janet Allen said.
Dennis Nichols said he was Houston’s best friend throughout elementary and middle school.
“It’s been, probably, the hardest couple of days of my life,” he said. “Richard was the real deal.”
Their third grade teacher said the two were inseparable.
“They were like BFF’s,” Arlene Myers said.
She was one of many who decorated a police vehicle in Mesquite who can’t believe he’s gone.
“Yes, these guys are 45 or older, but they’re still my kids. They’re my babies and I still love them even though I don’t see them every day like I did,” Myers added.
Police said a donation website has been set up to help the Houston family: charities.thempa.org/donate/.
Written by David Sentendrey