Area police officers salute as family members put the coffin of Jose "Andy" Chavez into the hearse at Woodmore High School in Elmore, Ohio.
The Blade/Lori King
ELMORE, Ohio -- Hundreds of people, including scores of law enforcement agents and firefighters, gathered here Saturday to bid farewell to an off-duty Elmore police officer who was shot dead while celebrating his birthday at a Fremont bar early March 9.
Jose “Andy” Chavez, 26, one of three people killed in the bar shootings, received full police honors during his funeral services at Woodmore High School, 633 Fremont St., Elmore, with Police Chaplin Rev. Larry Vriezalaar officiating. The services were followed by a six-mile march from Elmore to the Westwood Cemetery in Woodville, where his body was buried.
Speakers described Officer Chavez as a family man and an exemplary policeman who was proud of his job and loved the community he served.
Elmore Police Chief George Hayes said Officer Chavez, whose duty it was to "protect and serve," "was protecting and serving those he loved" when he died.
"We all got to live because Andy loved life," Belinda Chavez of Woodville, Officer Chavez's mother, said, crying through most of her four-minute eulogy Saturday.
Officer Chavez, who was married and had two young children, was killed at the Last Call Bar along with Daniel Ramirez, 25, and Ramiro Sanchez, 28. A fourth man, Ramiro Arreola, 25, was shot in a shoulder but was recovering.
Igmidio “Roger” Mista, 33, a Philippine national living in Fremont, was arrested Monday by Fremont police and remained in the Sandusky County jail Saturday without bond on three murder counts. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Officer Chavez, Mr. Ramirez, and Mr. Arreola are related and were celebrating Officer Chavez's March 2 birthday.
Mr. Ramirez's wife, who refused to give her name, who also was in the bar at the time of the shooting, has told The Blade she was punched in the face before the shooting began. Fremont Police Chief Timothy Wiersma said the suspect was in the bar for some time before the shooting, which may have been sparked by a dispute.
"Andy was always around when you needed him," Elmore Police Chief George Hayes said. "[And] he was dedicated to his family. He talked about them all the time."
Donny Bowen of Woodville, Officer Chavez's brother-in-law, also spoke of Officer Chavez's dedication to family and work.
"Andy was a family man from Day One," Mr. Bowen said. "...His life was short but he lived it to his fullest. He was proud to be a police officer in Elmore ... but what was most proud of ... was his wife and two kids."
Mr. Chavez enjoyed being a policeman and enjoyed talking to people, Mr. Bowen had also said.
"He loved his job. He loved his community," he said. "He was always in a good mood.... He never had one bad thing to say about anybody."
Mr. Chavez was born March 2, 1988, in Fremont. He played soccer for two years at Fremont Ross High School and later was a varsity soccer coach at Woodmore High School.
Before joining the Elmore Police Department, he was a Woodville auxiliary police officer and a security guard for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Surviving are his wife, Amber Bowen Chavez, who had been his high school sweetheart; daughter and son, Marieh and Emmitt Chavez; parents, Rafael and Belinda Chavez, and brother, Rafael Chavez. He was preceded in death by his brother, Guadalupe Jose Ysasi Chavez.
The family requests tributes to the Jose Chavez Memorial Fund, care of Fremont Federal Credit Union.