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San Marcos community copes with 'anger' after death of officer

Funeral plans are now in place for fallen San Marcos Police Officer Ken Copeland. He was shot and killed Monday while attempting to serve a warrant. (CBS Austin)

Funeral plans are now in place for fallen San Marcos Police Officer Ken Copeland. He was shot and killed Monday while attempting to serve a warrant.

At a press conference the same day, SMPD Chief Chase Stapp said Copeland was working on his day off because they were so understaffed. Under 70 officers work for SMPD, making his loss close to home for the entire department and much of the community.

However, Copeland's unexpected death has brought out the best in people. Flowers and kindly-worded notes, even some Christmas gifts for his two sets of twin boys are starting to gather in the lobby of the police department's headquarters.

Sandy Myers, a wife of a San Marcos police officer, dropped off flowers on Tuesday. She stood before the memorial in the lobby and held her family members before she spoke with several members of the media about what Copeland's loss meant to her.

"It's rage, such anger," said Myers about how she felt about the suspect now charged with capital murder. "I don't understand why people feel that that is okay … to shoot a police officer. It's not!"

The same emotion was felt by Kyle Police Officer Cody Mitchell. He spent part of his day off standing along the interstate as Copeland's body was escorted from the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office back to San Marcos.

"I was angry, I was very angry," said Mitchell when asked about his reaction to learning of Copeland's death.

Becca Van Tassel, a clinical director with the Austin Center for Grief and Loss said feeling anger in a tight-knit community is common.

"It's okay that people are feeling outrage and anger and frustration over this, this was a terrible situation. If we could offer love and support in this time of tragedy it could help people connect with each other. That's critical right now," said Van Tassel.

She said when coping with grief, the first assessment is finding out 'what was lost.' Then 'what is left' that one can still use to cope with grief, like family or friends. And finally, 'what's still possible' to find meaning and joy in life.

"By offering each other hugs and warm wishes, and just connecting with each other during this time," she said.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., a vigil for Copeland will be held at the Hays County Courthouse at 111 East San Antonio Street in San Marcos. So far over 200 people have RVSP'd online.

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