Slain Houston police sergeant remembered for his dedication

Family, friends and colleagues attended funeral services Wednesday for Sgt. Sean Rios

By Julian Gill
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — Funeral services for HPD Sgt. Sean Rios were being held Wednesday, with hundreds of mourners filling a church to remember the 25-year veteran of the police force.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he was proud to be a Houston police officer," Chaplain Vincent Johnson said, lauding Rios for the arrests he had made and the criminal acts he had prevented. "He will always be honored amongst our ranks."

Mayor Sylvester Turner that more than 125 of Rios' family members attended service at Grace Community Church in southeast Houston, where funerals for slain Sgt. Harold Preston and Sgt. Christopher Brewster were also held.

Also attending the service was members of Rios' cadet class and some former HPD colleagues. A public visitation was held Tuesday at Sagemont Church.

A final motorcade will escort Rios, 47, after the service from the church at 14505 Gulf Freeway to 4600 Woodway Drive, off West Loop 610.

Rios is survived by his parents, George and Bonnie Rios; his ex-wife, Sarah Rios, and his four children, Isabella, Tristan, Luca and Giuliana.

The sergeant was shot and killed Nov. 9 in a gun battle on Stuebner Airline near the northbound Interstate 45 frontage road. The suspected shooter, Robert Soliz, has been arrested and charged with murder. A person of interest, identified Tuesday as Jason Frank Vazquez, remains at large.

Rios had been driving to his 2 p.m. afternoon shift at George Bush Intercontinental Airport when the shooting broke out. He was driving his personal vehicle and not in uniform.

Multiple witnesses spotted the sergeant exchanging gunfire with a man, believed to be Soliz, who had run inside The Cactus King plant nursery on Stuebner Airline. A person matching the description of Vazquez appeared to signal toward Soliz during the shooting, witnesses said.

Rios fled to the front office of a nearby motel, where he was pronounced dead. The moments leading up the shooting remain unclear. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo previously said that 911 calls suggest Rios may have been trying to intervene in a road rage dispute involving Soliz before his death.

Soliz's attorney, Paul Looney, characterized those comments as unjustified assumptions.

Soliz faces two additional charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one of which was connected to a road rage shooting earlier this year involving a former high school classmate.

The Rios death marked the fourth time in less than a year that a Houston police officer died in the line of duty, following the deaths of Brewster, Preston and Tactical Flight Office Jason Knox.

(c)2020 the Houston Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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