GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Several North Texas communities are mourning the deaths of five police officers this past week — all remembered for their tireless dedication and service to their communities.
Grand Prairie Police Department Officer A.J. Castaneda:
At around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 7th, 2019, Grand Prairie Police Department Officer A.J. Castaneda was running radar (LIDAR) while standing outside of his squad vehicle that was parked on the inside shoulder of President George Bush Turnpike at Dickey Road. Another vehicle, for yet to be determined reasons, struck the officer's vehicle which resulted in Castaneda being thrown from the overpass and onto the roadway below — he later succumbed to his injuries at an area hospital.
38-year-old Castaneda was a five-year veteran of the Grand Prairie Police Department assigned to the Patrol Division in Field Operations Bureau. Prior to Grand Prairie, he served six years with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office and served in the United States Coast Guard from 2000 until 2008.
"He was a loving father of two children, a friend, a trusted colleague and an outstanding officer whose passion was providing service to the public," read a statement from the Grand Prairie Police Department. "He was most recently featured in the news in September of 2018 when he saved a child who was choking at the Mid-Autumn Festival at Asia Times Square."
The Colony Police Department Sergeant David Fitzgerald:
On June 7, 2019, The Colony Police Department Sergeant David Fitzgerald suffered a serious medical episode at work after participating in the department's wellness program. Fitzgerald was transported to an area hospital where he remained on life support until he was pronounced deceased three days later.
Sergeant Fitzpatrick, a 28-year veteran of The Colony Police Department and one of its most senior officers, was honored in his passing because he had opted to be an organ donor.
"He will be sorely missed by his family, police family, and the countless citizens of The Colony he has served since 1991," read a statement from the department.
Kaufman County Precinct 4 Constable Chad Jones:
On Wednesday, June 12, 2019, Kaufman County Precinct 4 Constable Chad Jones suffered a heart attack while on duty at the Kaufman County Courthouse.
Jones was elected as the Precinct 4 Constable in 2016 and had previously worked for the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office. His office recently introduced a K9 unit to serve his precinct and neighboring departments.
"Today we have lost one of our finest Constables for Kaufman County," stated Precinct 2 Constable Jason Johnson. "Constable Chad Jones was a professional, hard working, dedicated elected official, and cared for this county without pause."
"Chad’s life was cut too short, however his legacy has already touched our family," read a statement from Jones' family as reported by inForney.com. "We have received unbelievable love and support from the citizens of Kaufman County, the law enforcement family, countless friends and perfect strangers. There is no doubt Chad touched many and now his kindness is being returned to his family."
North Richland Hills Police Department Officer Caleb Rainey:
Yesterday, the North Richland Hills Police Department announced the passing of one of its officers, 25-year-old Caleb Rainey.
Rainey had served with the North Richland Hills Police Department for just over two years and, in his short time there, had been nominated as Rookie of the Year in 2018, earned two Commendations, a Certificate of Recognition for his efforts and dedication, and earned his place as "Top Shot" during his academy.
"While the cause of Caleb’s death is unclear at this time, we do know that he had recently been ill," read a statement from the department.
"Caleb is best described as a true public servant, always giving of himself to lift others," continued the statement. "He was kind, dedicated, full of life and compassionate. His sense of humor brought light to our team. We will truly miss his infectious smile and laughter."
Tarrant County Sheriff's Office Deputy Sergeant Keith Shepherd:
Last night, Tarrant County Sheriff's Office Deputy Sergeant Keith Shepherd, a 19-year veteran of the department, was found in his personal vehicle in the Tarrant County Jail's employee parking garage with significant injuries to his head.
Fellow deputies found Shepherd after he failed to return to his assignment from a lunch break. He was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
In a statement Saturday morning, the Fort Worth Police Department, which is the lead investigating agency, stated, "Based on information learned at the scene and at the hospital, there is no evidence to suggest that Deputy Shepherd was shot; however, the official cause and manner of death will be determined by Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office."
Investigators are combing through area surveillance video in hopes of garnering additional information on what led to Shepherd's death and have not released any other available information on the incident.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn says Shepherd had a great reputation at the department, was a strong leader, and a loving husband and father.