Hundreds of uniformed police officers, DEA agents and members of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies filled the halls of Grandview Medical Center on Thursday to pay their respects and say goodbye to a Dayton police detective who was critically injured by gunfire this week while serving a search warrant.
Detective Jorge Del Rio died on Thursday, three days after being shot twice in the face as he searched the basement of a suspected drug house in northwest Dayton.
Del Rio, a 30-year veteran of the Dayton Police Department who has been praised for dedicating his life to removing dangerous drugs from the street, had his organs removed and donated. Officials said it was a fitting last act for someone who spent his life helping others and making sacrifices for the community.
“We have not even begun to adjust to a professional and personal life that includes Jorge’s absence,” Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said Thursday afternoon. “That is even truer for his family, friends and loved ones who were blessed to know Jorge and to benefit from his warm, generous spirit.”
Del Rio’s shooting and death has sparked a huge outpouring of support for the detective, his family and loved ones and for a police department that has had to respond to a series of traumatic and tragic events this year, including a hate group rally, devastating tornadoes, a mass shooting and other violence.
The Dayton Fraternal Order of Police started a fundraiser to help support Del Rio’s family, featuring a GoFundMe page that set a goal of raising $75,000. Within just four hours, people had already made nearly $10,000 in donations.
Del Rio is survived by his wife, Kathy, five daughters and three grand-daughters. Another grandchild is on the way.
“We request that community members hold his family, friends, colleagues and fellow law enforcement officers in thought, prayer, and heartfelt care,” Biehl said.
Law enforcement officials said Del Rio was as skilled at police work as anyone who has ever worn the badge and he undoubtedly saved countless lives by busting drug dealers and confiscating powerful narcotics that would have resulted in untold numbers of fatal overdoses. He spent the last 20 years as part of Drug Enforcement Agency task force.
That was the group that went into the house where Del Rio was shot as he went down into the basement. Four people were taken into custody after the shooting, and three of them are to appear in court this afternoon.
It was immediately clear on Monday night that Del Rio’s injuries were life-threatening. He was hit twice in the face by gunfire.
On Wednesday, Biehl announced that Del Rio’s injuries were “tragically not survivable” and that his organs would be donated.
Shortly after the sun rose on Thursday, law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies across the county and region poured into Grandview, shoulders hunched against the crisp morning air.
Many arrived in pairs, some by themselves, some by the truckload, to wish Del Rio farewell.
At least two police cruisers were at the hospital all night long, as officers watched over their brother in blue. Lines of police cars were parked outside in nearly every direction.
A cold rain fell on agents and officers as they trickled out of the medical center after Del Rio went into surgery.
Some agents and officers hugged, others shook hands.
Mark Williams lives adjacent to the hospital and he was moved by the outpouring of respect Thursday.
“What a tragedy and my heart goes out to that man’s family,” he said as he watched DEA officers enter the hospital.
Details about the organ donation were not immediately available, but a company spokesperson with Spirit Medical Transport LLC confirmed to WHIO-TV that they picked up donated organs Thursday at Grandview.
The spokesperson could not confirm if they were from officer Del Rio because they are not provided that information for privacy reasons. An official said Life Connection of Ohio handles tissue and organ donations.
Tina Reiter, who is on Judge Michael Krumholtz’s staff, was among a group of county staff who waited outside the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office to pay their respects as Del Rio’s body was transported in a special processional.
“When you lose somebody like that from the community, especially someone who has been doing it for so long and so close to retirement, it just compounds to the tragedy. Our sympathies truly go out to his family and the rest of the police department and everyone who is affected by it, which I think is the whole community,” Reiter said.
Meggan Lanahan said she sees law enforcement almost every day because of her job with the county and has a great respect for them, which why she wanted to come out in her personal capacity to see Del Rio’s procession come in.
“I just have a great respect for law enforcement and they put their lives on the line and do things most people don’t have the courage to do, so I greatly appreciate it,” Lanahan said.
A public visitation for Del Rio will be held at the University of Dayton Arena from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. Funeral services will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the arena.
In honor of Del Rio, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered that U.S. and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff.
Flags will remain lowered at all public buildings and grounds in Montgomery County and the Ohio Statehouse until sunset on Tuesday.
Police officials and elected leaders from across Ohio said they were deeply saddened to learn that Del Rio had paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving his community.
Del Rio spent his life tirelessly working to safeguard the community from dangerous drug trafficking organizations and his sacrifice will never be forgotten, said Keith Martin, DEA Special Agent in Charge with the Detroit Field Division.
“To lose such an extraordinary public servant is heartbreaking,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “Let us all honor Jorge’s work by resembling the man that he was — compassionate, dedicated and committed to family and community.”
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