Monday, May 24, 2010
Officer John A. Riojas
Officer John Anthony "Rocky" Riojas
San Antonio Police Department, TX
Cause of Death: Gunfire
End of Watch: Saturday, February 03, 2001
Date of Incident: Friday, February 02, 2001
Badge Number: 1168
Tour of Duty: 11 yr
Suspect Info: Sentenced to death
Weapon Used: Officer's service weapon
Buried: San Fernando Cemetery #2
Location of Name on National and Texas Monuments
NLEOMF: P22 - E9
TPOM: 01, B, 09
Officer John Anthony "Rocky" Riojas at about 9:40 p.m. was summoned to the Stone Hollow Apartments in the 9400 block of Fredericksburg Road, for a Public Disturbance. He was involved in a foot chase with the suspect and was able to catch up to the suspect as a struggle ensued. Officer Riojas drew his service weapon but the fight went to the ground, and Officer Riojas ended up on top of the subject, chest to chest with his gun still in his hand. The individual grabbed Officer Riojas’ gun and then extended Officer Riojas’ arm and gun out away from him as he turned on his stomach. Being taller and longer of arm than Riojas, he was able to apply more leverage and got the gun away from Officer Riojas, who was physically very strong. Officer Riojas was now on the subjects back. The subject had the gun underneath him and officer Riojas was trying to get the gun back from under the subject, reaching around and under the right side of the subject. Meanwhile, the subject switched the gun to his left hand and extended the gun back over his left shoulder, next to his own ear and pulled the trigger. Officer Riojas’ head was on that side and he took the round through the forehead, killing him instantly. The suspect fleed the scene. Other Officers in the area responded to the gunfire. Officer Riojas was transported to a hospital, where he died two hours later at 12:07 a.m. after his family made the decision to take him off life support. Police Chief Al Philippus said at a 12:35 a.m. news conference. "The family had to make some very difficult decisions for him,"
After the incident at about 9:40 p.m., dozens of officials searched the area around the Stone Hollow Apartments in the 9400 block of Fredericksburg Road. Police officers and Bexar County sheriff's deputies - including the sheriff's gang unit - were involved in the manhunt and investigation. Riojas, a member of the Street Crimes Arrest Team unit, reportedly was in uniform when he was shot. The officer was alone when he was shot in the forehead, but other SCAT officers reportedly were in the area. SCAT officers operate over a special radio frequency but can alert patrol officers in emergencies, police spokesman Gabe Treviño said. He said Riojas was unable to radio for help but other officers arrived within a minute of the broadcast that shots had been fired and found Riojas. The shooting occurred in the back of the apartment complex near a bank of mailboxes, Treviño said. The suspect was found and arrested several days later, at his trial, he was sentenced to death.
Officer John Anthony "Rocky" Riojas had been with the agency for 11 years and is survived by his wife and two young children.
The Chief said Riojas "was a real hard worker, someone who everybody
admired, somebody who tried to make this community a better place."
"It is the blue centurions who safeguard the sanctity of life. It is officers like Rocky who patrol the streets while others sleep, who work the special holidays, and are away from their families. Yes, each day, police officers like Rocky begin their tour of duty knowing that through their service and numberless acts of courage, our community is safe". - Chief Al Philippus, eulogy excerpt.