By BEN FINLEY
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The wife of an off-duty police officer killed during a North Carolina mass shooting recalled Saturday how she tried to save him after he was shot.
“I’m glad you were still with me long enough so that I could kiss your skin while it was still warm,” Jasmin Torres said at the memorial service for Gabriel Torres, 29. “While I could still feel the pulse of your heart.”
Torres, a Raleigh police officer and former U.S. 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 camouflage clothing and firing a shotgun.
Police said the teenager killed five people in all, including his older brother, during the Oct. 13 rampage in the Hedingham neighborhood and along a nearby walking trail. While authorities continue to search for a motive, North Carolina’s capital city was still reeling nine 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, which included hearing “cracks” that didn’t make sense at first.
“Finding you wounded with your life slipping away is a pain too hard to deal with,” she said.
She added: “I gave my all to try and save you. I’m sorry if I scared you. I didn’t know I could scream that loud.”
Jasmin Torres recalled the many times she and her husband had spent apart from each other over the years, including during his deployments as a Marine and then working nights as a police officer.
“I am so, so, so, proud of you,” his wife said. “You were so dedicated to your work. I had to beg you to use your time off. Your night shifts were hard — it created distance — but we got through it.”
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said Torres often checked in on the fellow officers he had trained with at the police economy during the down times of his shift.
“Always making sure that they and their families were okay,” the chief said. “I’m told he always had an extra something on hand, whether it was a pair of socks, a T-shirt, an extra flashlight or an extra few dollars to share if someone was in need.”
The highlight of Torres’s day, Patterson said, was cooking dinner for Jasmin and their daughter Layla before starting his shift.
“He has left an example to each of us of what the world needs more of — not those running away from the challenges of the profession and the inherent dangers associated with this work,” the chief said. “But those running in, protecting against the forces that prey and hate; those that divide and destroy.”
Less than two hours after U.S. Marines deftly folded the American flag draped over Torres’s coffin, another memorial was scheduled for Susan Karnatz, 49. She was killed during the rampage while running on the walking trail.
Karnatz was an avid runner who completed the Boston Marathon four times. She was the mother of three boys.
A memorial is also expected in the coming days for Mary Marshall, 34, a Navy veteran who was walking her dog and planned to get married later this month.
Nicole Connors, who was talking to a neighbor on her porch, was the matriarch of her extended family and had worked in human resources. Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Dayton, Ohio, according to the Dayton Daily News.
A memorial was held this past Thursday for James Thompson, 16, the older brother of the 15-year-old who police say carried out the shootings. A basketball jersey and a pair of shorts had been placed atop James Thompson’s coffin.
He was “just getting to that age when the whole world was opening up for him,” Jeff Roberts, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, said during the service.
The shooting suspect was identified by his parents as Austin Thompson. Police said they believe he fired shots at officers and that multiple officers returned fire before he was arrested. He remains in critical condition, according to a report released by police on Thursday.
The parents released a statement that they are “overcome with grief” and saw no warning signs that “Austin was capable of doing anything like this.”
His mother said Wednesday that he was moved to a pediatric ICU unit. The top local prosecutor has said she will seek to charge the youth as an adult.
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